The Government extended the insurance coverage as part of the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme.
Equity President Maureen Beattie welcomed the changes, saying:
"Thanks to the campaigning efforts of thousands of Equity members who have been signing petitions, writing to their MPs and highlighting this issue in the press and media, we have secured this important step forward in our work to increase employment opportunities for older workers. We remain committed 100% to equal opportunities for all."
Paul W Fleming, Equity General Secretary, added:
"Huge barriers remain for older workers in our industry, including the long standing age discrimination faced by older women creatives and the gaps in the wider commercial insurance market but today we very much welcome this intervention by DCMS. Equity will continue to campaign for a fair and equal return to work for all across the creative sector but for now congratulations to all of our members for standing together and winning this important change."
- Under the DCMS Production Insurance Restart Scheme TV and film producers are offered compensation when their production is affected by certain Covid-related risks, such as cast member illness, family bereavement or isolation requirements. However, until this change was made, compensation was not offered if the affected cast member is over 70.
- The Scheme Rules (specifically Annex 4) was updated on 20th December and is available on GOV.UK: Annex 4: Specific Age Extension
- The changes enable a production with over 70s in the cast or crew to identify up to two key members for coverage. Productions wishing to make use of this provision will pay a fee of 1.25% of the production budget if they are newly registered, or an additional 0.25% for the cover if they are already registered with the Production Restart Scheme. This is understood to be an affordable level for production companies.
- Equity launched a campaign to change the original scheme Rules back in November including an online petition and more recently members organised an open letter signed by 100 of Equity's leading members including Sir Tony Robinson and Alison Steadman.
- Unlike many other fields of work, those working in the entertainment industry very often do not or cannot retire. One in every five of Equity's 47,000 members are over the age of 60. The exclusion of the over 70s from the previous Scheme rules exacerbated pre-existing and entrenched prejudice against older creative workers, who have long faced discrimination within their industry while battling the effects of wider societal bias against older people.