Over 90% of women in the film and TV industry have lost all their income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis according to a survey by creative industries organisation for female workers, Women in Film and TV (UK).

The members who replied to the questionnaire came from all areas of the industry from directing and on-location roles; to production management and a range of craft-based jobs.

The key findings from the WFTV survey reveal that 39% of women have lost their jobs completely, 31%  have had their current work cancelled and so are receiving no income, 26% say their projects have been paused and they too have no income and 4%  have indicated that their film and TV work has been cancelled, however they do have other work too, so have some income coming in.

Liz Tucker, Chair, WFTV said, “Our survey shows how the Covid-19 Crisis is creating acute financial distress. It’s leaving our members really worried and concerned about how they pay their bills, rent and mortgages in the coming months. While we welcome the government’s financial packages which will help support some freelancers and the self-employed. The current package has left many of our freelance and self-employed members unable to claim any financial support at all. Far too many of them simply fall through the cracks of the current support scheme”.

WFTV has written again to the government asking them to provide further support for freelancers and the self-employed. It has highlighted three particular areas of concern:

1.    Freelancers earning £50,000/yr or more. Currently, someone earning £51,000/yr is unable to claim anything, whereas someone earning £49,000/yr can claim the maximum amount.

2.    Freelancers working through limited companies. A very large number of freelancers work through these companies, in many cases, they are required to do so as a condition of their employment. So, WFTV proposes that in these cases, the freelancer’s combined salary and dividends be used in any financial grant calculation, rather than solely calculating this figure on the freelancer’s salary.

3.    Freelancers with less than one years’ accounts. A number of freelancers have contacted WFTV because they have only gone freelance in the last few months.

So for workers in this situation, WFTV requests that the government allows freelancers to file their 5 April 2020 tax return by 31 May 2020, and for their 19/20 income to be the one used to calculate the grant payable. In addition, in these cases, WFTV would suggest that the requirement that the freelancer’s self-employed income is more than 50% of their earnings before they can claim be removed. If someone has only been freelance for several months, it is very likely that they will have made most of that year’s income from non-freelance earnings.

In the meantime, as requested by its members in the survey, WFTV is scheduling a detailed range of online financial, wellbeing webinars, and 121 sessions to help members during this very distressing time.

Liz Tucker, Chair WFTV: “At the moment this is a very fast changing situation, with financial advice from the government being updated on an almost daily basis,  so as we respond to this crisis and continue to hear from our members, there may well be support for other  groups that the Chancellor needs to look at again too”.

Staff Reporter