Available support: a quick guide

Equity has been fighting hard for government support for creative workers and has been instrumental in securing the new scheme for the self-employed. There are two government support schemes. The Job Retention Scheme (JRA) which covers those employers who operate PAYE (an employer deducts tax and national before paying you your wages) and the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). The majority of Equity members will be eligible for SEISS, but there are gaps in it that we are lobbying hard to fill. You can get in-depth details in our financial support page. Please jump to the different sections below.

I need advice about:
 

Working in theatre

Equity has been in intense negotiations across all theatre sectors regarding getting the best deals on your existing contracts – West End, Commercial, Subsidised, Independent and Fringe and we have completed an agreement with SOLT to support West End artists and stage management, which can be accessed in full here. We have also completed a deal for theatre workers covering the first period of coronavirus closure, providing as many people as possible with financial support in this initial phase, which can be accessed in full here

Equity is currently working on a COVID-19 Agreement for the Suspension period with UK Theatre for Commercial tours, and with SOLT and UK Theatre for COVID-19 Agreements for our Directors, Designers and Choreographers Agreements. We will achieve an overall deal with the employers where appropriate, but the particular details of your contract may need further investigation. If so, please contact our organisers.

 

If you work in a ‘standing’ company such as in the Opera and Ballet you will likely qualify for the original government Job Retention Scheme of 80% salary.

 

If you work in the majority of theatre you will be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This will be a taxable grant administered by HMRC. It will be based on 80% of average monthly profits over the last three tax years (2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19) up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. If you have less than three years of profits available it can be based only on tax year 2018/19. The average trading profits need to be less than £50,000 and more than half of your average taxable income in the same period.

The scheme will have a duration of three months and should be operational by the beginning of June. Payments will be covered retrospectively from the beginning of March. The duration of the scheme may be extended. The government will identify who can apply and they will be asked to complete an application (HMRC will have your contact details). You may also be able to claim Universal Credit. Find out more details from our financial support pages.

 
We know there are a number of gaps in SEISS scheme and we are lobbying hard to make sure all our members are covered.

 

Working in TV, film, audio, new media

Staff are conducting intense and complex negotiations with employers across the sector to secure the best contractual situation for members. This includes the continuing dramas (Soaps), radio, streaming services and film. As of 08/04, Equity has secured financial support for artists working in continuing dramas following the complete shutdown of production. This includes shows Holby, Casualty, Eastenders, Doctors, River City, Pobol y Cwm, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

Additionally, Equity Distribution Services are working to get funds out to you ASAP and there will be another distribution in April. There is some good news regarding the increase in home screen entertainment, which will generate further payments to members from the union’s existing contract work. Plus feature films going straight to streaming platforms will still benefit members because of how our contracts are created.

 
The vast majority of members working in TV, film, audio, new media will be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This will be a taxable grant administered by HMRC.

It will be based on 80% of average monthly profits over the last three tax years (2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19) up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. If you have less than three years of profits available it can be based only on tax year 2018/19. The average trading profits need to be less than £50,000 and more than half of your average taxable income in the same period.

The scheme will have a duration of three months and should be operational by the beginning of June. Payments will be covered retrospectively from the beginning of March. The duration of the scheme may be extended. The government will identify who can apply and they will be asked to complete an application (HMRC will have your contact details). You may also be able to claim Universal Credit. Find out more details from our financial support pages.

 
We know there are a number of gaps in SEISS scheme and we are lobbying hard to make sure all our members are covered. If you believe the particular details of your contract needs further investigation, please contact our organisers.
 

Working in the Variety Sector

We have been working with members as live entertainment has been cancelled across the UK. We have got some general advice on contract cancellations. If you believe the particular details of your contract needs further investigation, please contact our organisers. Read our detailed financial support pages.
 
The vast majority of members working in variety will be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS). This will be a taxable grant administered by HMRC.

It will be based on 80% of average monthly profits over the last three tax years (2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19) up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. If you have less than three years of profits available it can be based only on tax year 2018/19. The average trading profits need to be less than £50,000 and more than half of your average taxable income in the same period.

The scheme will have a duration of three months and should be operational by the beginning of June. Payments will be covered retrospectively from the beginning of March. The duration of the scheme may be extended. The government will identify who can apply and they will be asked to complete an application (HMRC will have your contact details). You may also be able to claim Universal Credit. Find out more details from our financial support pages.

 

My membership subscription

During this crisis we can help existing members with subscriptions in most circumstances. Please email: subs-help@equity.org.uk
 

Equity’s Benevolent fund - financial help from the union

Members can apply for support from our hardship fund, please see here for more information on Equity’s Benevolent Fund

Equity's mental health support
Equity has a support system for members dealing with mental health problems, including a new dedicated 24/7 mental health helpline. To discuss your mental health please call the Equity mental health and well-being helpline: 0800 917 6470 (have your Equity number to hand).

You can also visit the ArtsMinds website at https://www.artsminds.co.uk/ for a resource hub dedicated to mental health support.

Further sources of support

Equity's Tax and Welfare Rights Advice Line
For further information and advice, please contact the Tax and Welfare Rights Advice Line at Equity.  We are open on Mondays and Thursdays from 10-1pm and 2-5pm.  Call 0207 670 0223 or email helpline@equity.org.uk.

Theatrical charities: Leading theatrical charities have come together to centralise information about how and where you can access support if you work in the theatre industry. Visit https://theatresupport.info/ for more information.

Arts Council Funding: the Arts Council will be making £20 million of emergency funding available to artists, creative practitioners and freelancers who have a history of public service culture. For more details on this scheme please see: https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19

Creative Scotland: have put together three funding programmes designed to provide further support to sustain Scotland's creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information see www.creativescotland.com/covid-funds.