Film and TV Charity expands pot as UK workforce faces “unprecedented” financial woes

Marcus Ryder

The UK-based Film and TV Charity has expanded its existing budget by £500,000 ($636,000) to increase support for TV, film and cinema workers in the country in urgent financial need.

The move from the charity comes after a massive 800% surge in applications by industry workers facing financial crisis and in need of stop gap grants.

The charity said that it was an “unprecedented situation” that has been caused by multiple factors, including the US actors and writers strikes impacting productions globally; the cost-of-living crisis; and pressures on scripted and unscripted production budgets.

Partners including broadcasters the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5, and Prime Video have also pledged further donations to bolster the charity’s budget.

Marcus Ryder, the former BBC exec who was appointed as CEO of the charity last month, announced the new funds ahead of an appearance at the Edinburgh TV Festival this week.

“The rise in grants applications we have seen, and the testimony we are hearing from production staff feeling the effects of a wide range of factors all serve to underline a systemic problem with the financial resilience of the workforce who drive the UK production sector,” said Ryder.

The charity received an 800% rise in applications for stop-gap grants in July 2023 compared to the same month in 2022 and said that workers across the industry are facing financial insecurity that can also negatively impact their mental health.

The charity conducted a recent survey looking at the financial resilience of industry workers shows that 46% of respondents had zero or less than £1,000 in savings and half aren’t contributing to a pension. People from marginalised groups were more likely to be affected, with carers, black and global majority, and disabled workers often finding it even harder with higher levels of debt and lower household incomes.

Productions under pressure

Insights from the survey will be presented and examined during the charity’s Edinburgh TV Festival session on Wednesday, entitled ‘Production under pressure: Supporting life on the frontline’.

Ryder added: “Having weathered the pandemic as an industry, the cost-of-living crisis, and other contributing factors like the impact of US strikes on global production, and pressures on scripted and unscripted production budgets, see financial instability emerging as a growing concern and a significant contributor to the mental health and wellbeing of film, TV, and cinema workers, especially freelancers and other already marginalised workers.

“However, during discussions with our partners and stakeholders, their concern when presented with the reality of the situation for many has been palpable. Just as they worked with us in response to the mental health emergency uncovered by the first Looking Glass survey, we hope they will once again rise to the challenge and come together to address what is clearly the next significant pillar of our collective response to improve the wellbeing of everyone working in our industry.”

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