VAT and tax: workshop for the arts and culture sector
Buzzacott are running an online workshop on Wednesday 5 August from 12pm-1pm to support the arts and culture sector throughout the current uncertainty. This event is open to all and will cover the latest VAT and tax issues including the temporary 5% VAT rate, cash flow and the impact of COVID-19, recent developments on gift aid, the cultural exemption and more. There will also be a live Q&A session for you to have your questions answered.
Relevant enquiries or intiatives:
Employment and COVID-19 inquiry
The Lords Economic Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into employment and COVID-19. You can submit evidence here. The inquiry will focus on measures that could help protect and create jobs. The deadline for submissions is 10 September 2020.
Financial Resources and Support:
Performing Arts Venues Fund – Scotland
On Wednesday, Creative Scotland published guidance on how to access the Scottish Government’s Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund. This follows the announcement by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon of a £2.5m increase to taking the total available through the fund to £12.5m.
Cultural Recovery Fund – Wales
A £53 Million Cultural Recovery Fund has been announced to help the Welsh culture sector deal with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh government will be administering different parts of the funds.
Theatre Artist Fund
The Theatre Artists Fund, a new fund established with a £500k donation from Netflix and spearheaded by the director Sam Mendes, is to provide small grants of £1000 for theatre workers who find themselves with nowhere else to turn. It is designed to specifically support those who have been ineligible for Government aid and have not been able to work since theatres closed on 16th March due to Covid-19.
The first round of applications will remain open until 12noon on Monday 13 July. To find out how to apply or to donate please visit the website.
We welcome gifts to the Fund and look forward to announcing several exciting gifts soon – please contact email@example.com if you can help.
Theatres Trust has announced details of the additional support they will be offering theatres during this time of crisis.
They will be:
- Taking on an additional part-time adviser to help small theatres with business planning, budgeting and cashflow, fundraising and essential building maintenance.
- Creating a new Theatres Trust Skills Bank to match theatres with experts willing to offer pro bono advice on preparing to reopen including hygiene and social distancing needs and general property management.
- Repurposing their small grants programme to support theatres to cover the additional costs of reopening after several months’ closure, including making adaptations for increased hygiene and social distancing measures.
Job Retention Scheme
- June and July: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500 as well as employer National Insurance (ER NICs) and pension contributions. Employers are not required to pay anything.
- August: The government will pay 80% of wages up to a cap of £2,500. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions – for the average claim, this represents 5% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
- September: The government will pay 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 10% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 14% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
- October: The government will pay 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875. Employers will pay ER NICs and pension contributions and 20% of wages to make up 80% total up to a cap of £2,500. For the average claim, this represents 23% of the gross employment costs the employer would have incurred had the employee not been furloughed.
- The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be extended – with those eligible able to claim a second and final grant capped at £6,570.
- Applications for the second grant will open in August. Individuals will be able to claim a second taxable grant worth 70% of their average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single installment covering three months’ worth of profits.
Applications for Self-Employment Income Support Scheme open
From 8am on 13th May 2020 self-employed individuals or members of partnerships whose business has been adversely affected by Coronavirus will be able to apply for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) grant worth 80% of their average monthly trading profits. This is earlier than expected. Self-Employed people have been invited to claim their SEISS grant on a specified date, from 13 – 18 May. They won’t be able to apply before their claim date but can make a claim after that day. People can check their date using HMRC’s online checker.
UK Theatre and Equity Commercial Theatre Agreement – COVID-19 Variation Agreement
UK Theatre and Equity have worked together to agree a variation to the Commercial Theatre Agreement for Actors and Stage Management designed to assist with the recovery of the industry and in particular, the touring sector.
Other than stated in the document, all of the other terms and conditions remain as set out in the CTA.
Guidance on statutory collective redundancy consultation procedure – SOLT and UK Theatre / BECTU agreements
SOLT and UK Theatre have produced guidance for members who are proposing to make 20 or more of their employees redundant where this number includes those employed under the SOLT or UK Theatre / BECTU agreement. The guidance is on the application of the statutory collective redundancy procedure to the BECTU employees who are at risk of redundancy.
Whilst SOLT and UK Theatre have been exploring the viability of alternatives to redundancy such as lay-offs / retainers such arrangements are very problematic given the absence of finance to fund them for the length of time that is expected to elapse before theatres are able to reopen.
Whilst BECTU is not opposed to the principle of lay-offs / retainers, they stress that such arrangements are subject to individual agreement with the employees concerned and, in the absence of a significant element of contractual pay continuing to be paid, the employee would still be entitled to claim that they are redundant and receive all contractual and statutory payments due.
Further information will be provided as soon as possible.
One of the biggest concerns for many during this time is a lack of financial stability. Below is a list of funds, packages and resources which look to address this issue:
- GOV.UK’s Official Self-Employment Income Support
- ACE’s £160m Emergency Response Package
- £7m Welsh Arts Resilience Fund
- Northern Ireland’s £1m COVID-19 Creative Support Fund
There are also some really useful links on the Independent Theatre Council’s website.
Self-Employment Scheme update
We have an important update on the Self Employment scheme that we have received from HMT which confirms the scheme will now be delivered ahead of the original June schedule – with individuals able to apply for the grant from 13 May.
HMRC will begin contacting eligible self-employed individuals this week by email, text and letter to inform them that they are eligible and explain what they need to do to apply. Applications will open in tranches using the Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number given to all self-employed taxpayers. To provide further support to the claims process, HMT have today launched an online eligibility checker tool. This will also provide eligible self-employed individuals with a confirmed date from 13 May from which they will be able to apply for their grant.
The guidance has also been updated and can be found at the links below:
As you will note, there are now 3 gov.uk pages covering 1) information relating to eligibility in general; 2) information relating to eligibility for those in specific circumstances; and 3) detailed information on how HMRC will calculate eligibility and the value of the grant, including worked examples.
The updated guidance provides clarifications on some of the queries passed onto HMT:
- It provides detail on how individuals or their business can be “adversely affected” by COVID-19, in order to claim the grant.
- It clarifies that if individuals have taken parental leave at any point between the end of 2018-19 and now, they can still claim the SEISS, as parental leave is not considered a break in trading.
- It states that the grant provides three months’ worth of support, but it is not tied to a specific time period, and confirms that the grant is capped at £7,500.
- It explains how the eligibility criteria applies the 50% rule. The guidance now compares your trading profits to your non-trading income.
- It clarifies that, for the purposes of calculating non-trading income, the only social security benefits used are the taxable benefits.
- It sets out the position on late tax returns, tax returns under enquiry, and amended tax returns.
- It sets out the information that individuals will need to provide when they make their claim.
- It sets out the records that individuals will need to maintain after claiming the grant.
- It provides details of how to contact HMRC in case of any queries.
Managing Financial Difficulties: guidance and a toolkit for arts and cultural organisations
Created in partnership with Arts Council England this new guidance and toolkit has been developed with the aim of offering practical, realistic and holistic support to organisations as they come to terms with and respond to financial crises. It draws on Dawn and Susan’s extensive experience of working with organisations in financial difficulty, including Susan’s work as an insolvency practitioner and Dawn’s role as Director, Organisational Development at the Arts Council.
The materials were created before the current crisis hit but the advice, tools and templates could scarcely be more relevant.
COVID Information website
The Cross-Sector Safety & Security Communications (CSSC) has entered into a partnership with a very useful website titled ‘The Covid Telegraph’. This new site has accumulated facts, articles and advice in relation to the Covid-19 virus, all from trusted sources and verified by leading experts. The link to the Telegraph is here.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Government Guidance Library
Alongside DCMS, we are pleased to bring together on our SOLT and UK Theatre websites links to all the government schemes and advice for the different parts of the theatre sector, whether you are a theatre, a production company, one of the many companies in the theatre ecology, or an individual who works in the sector. These links should take you to the latest “live” pages on other websites with the latest guidance and help.
An additional £2million – Scotland’s creative community
Announced yesterday, the extra £1million from the Scottish Government and £1million from the Freelands Foundation will be used to increase the original £2million Creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund (Arts and Creative).
Stabilisation Fund – Wales
This fund for organisations is now open. It is there to support arts organisations working in the not-for-profit sector in Wales who are experiencing immediate financial difficulty due to loss of income, as well as cashflow pressures resulting from the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.
CPNI have created a checklist to assist organisations in understanding its strengths and weaknesses with respect to organisational security assurance during a Pandemic such as COVID-19.
Job Retention Scheme
The government have announced a new scheme which will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the Coronavirus outbreak. These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. It will open in May.
Farnham Maltings wants to support South East based theatre-makers in their towns and villages to create new work right now which responds to and supports our communities in these extraordinary and difficult times.
They are offering a limited programme of grants from £500 to £5000 to support artists to create theatre experiences with and for their community.
The BFI and The Film and TV Charity have partnered to create a new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund to help support the creative community. More information on how to register soon (page will be updated once registrations are live).
The Arts Resilience Fund Wales – update
- Tuesday 14 April 2020 – launch the first round of applications to a new fund offering support to individuals facing immediate financial difficulty and hardship – the Urgent Response Fund for Individuals. The application guidelines and FAQ document on this fund will be published on their website on Thursday 9 April.
- Tuesday 21 April 2020 – opening for applications to a further scheme – a Stabilisation Fund for Organisations.
Friday 29 May 2020 – open for applications to a Stabilisation Fund for Individuals
Charitable Funds for Theatre Industry Workers:
https://www.madtrust.org.uk/ – There is a crisis fund available to support unforeseen emergencies (this should now include COVID19) and they can provide small pockets of financial assistance to those experiencing unexpected financial hardship.
http://www.trtf.com/helpandadvice-1 – The Royal Theatrical Fund may provide financial help and support to those who work or have worked on stage, backstage and front of house and are unable to work due to illness or injury.
https://www.roh.org.uk/about/benevolent-fund – ROG Benevolent Fund is available to employees or Ex-employees OR their Dependent of any of the Royal Opera House companies OR of any other charity or organization involved in opera, ballet or music.
http://actingforothers.co.uk/ – Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities.
https://ttg.org.uk/ – The Theatrical Guild are the UK charity for backstage and front of house workers, with over 125 years’ experience helping people. Talk to them about practical help at any stage of your career – from welfare and debt advice to financial support and counselling.
https://www.backuptech.uk/ – Backup – The Technical Entertainment Charity – provides financial support to industry technical professionals working in live events, theatre, TV and film.
https://www.drurylanefund.com/ – Drury Lane Fund – is a small charitable fund for those who have worked at Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Template letter to send to your MP
We have created an updated letter/email template for you to send to your MP/s. This follows the first template letter we provided on the 16th March. This new letter also allows space to talk to your MP about recovery, the work you’ve been doing online with schools for instance, and to select the top three issues of most relevance to your local theatre.
Self-Employed – change.org
Following on from the letter we signed to the Chancellor on Friday, the following campaign has also been launched by IPSE on Change.org asking for government to create an emergency fund to support freelancers with Coronavirus income loss. You can sign this here if you’d like to.
Centralised information about how and where you can access support if you work in the theatre industry.
We are making £160 million of emergency funding available for those organisations and individuals who will need it during this crisis, and we have also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of our funding, to help alleviate pressure on them as best we can.
Stage One are adapting the way they work to support producers across the UK. They have launched an emergency fund which has supported nearly 30 producers with over £65,000 to mitigate losses sustained by loss of paid work or for those who do not qualify for the government support schemes. They have also created a series of webinars called ZOOM IN ON. Each week an established producer will host an hour long Q & A, the first one was hosted last week by Stage One’s Chief Executive, Joe Smith. Joe provided candid advice to the 60 attendees and answered their questions. If you would like any more information on any of the schemes Stage One runs please get in touch with the Programme Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chancellor expands loan scheme for large businesses
A government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms, the Chancellor announced yesterday. Outlining further details of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CLBILS) ahead of its launch on Monday, government has said all firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.