COVID-19

As the UK battles the COVID-19 outbreak, TIGA are here to provide high quality information and updates, as well as to represent the industry to the Government in order to ensure that the gaming sector is supported through this difficult time.
If you wish to get in touch with TIGA with any concerns or queries, please email Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA: richard.wilson@tiga.org
TIGA has published a new report based on survey data and feedback from members about the challenges coronavirus has created for the video games industry. The report can be viewed here: Impact of the Coronavirus on the UK video games industry – Thursday 21 May 2020
The Government’s working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance can be seen here.
Actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak can be found here.

The Welsh First Minister announces two-week circuit breaker lockdown – 19 October 2020

The First Minister of Wales, Rt Hon Mark Drakeford MS, has announced a two-week national lockdown in Wales from Friday 23 October until 9 November 2020. The key elements of the ‘circuit breaker’ are:

  • People must stay home, except for very limited purposes.
  • People must not visit other households or meet other people they do not live with.
  • Certain businesses including bars, restaurants and most shops must close.
  • Secondary schools will provide learning online only for the week after half-term, other than for children in years seven and eight. Primary schools and childcare settings will remain open.
  • Face coverings continue to be mandatory in the indoor public spaces that remain open, including on public transport and in taxis.
  • Fines and the risk of criminal proceedings will be in place for those who break the law.
  • The rules will come into force at 6.00pm on Friday 23 October 2020.

The First Minister said that the ‘circuit breaker’ will be for the fixed period described above and there will be some exceptions for Remembrance Sunday. Detailed guidance can be found on the Welsh Government’s website here.

The Government’s Winter Economy Plan – 24 September 2020

  • Jobs support scheme – The Government will directly support the wages of people in work, in viable jobs. Employees must be working at least a third of their normal hours and be paid for that work, as normal, by their employer. The Government and the employer will each cover one third of the pay an employee has lost by reducing their working hours.
    • Anyone who as of yesterday is employed is eligible.
    • The Scheme will start in November and run for six months.
    • All small and medium sized businesses are eligible to apply. Larger businesses may be able to apply but only when their turnover has fallen.
    • All businesses are eligible, even if they have not previously utilised the furlough scheme.
    • Employers who retain furloughed staff on shorter hours will be able to claim both the Jobs Support Scheme and the Jobs Retention Bonus.
  • Job Retention Bonus – This bonus is designed to support employers across the country who have kept on furloughed workers, and will work alongside the newly announced Job Support Scheme. The Government’s new guidance sets out the information employers who have furloughed employees need to know in order to claim the bonus from 15 February until 31 March 2021.
  • The Self-Employment Support Scheme: The Government announced that it will be extending the Self Employment Income Support Scheme Grant (SEISS). An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875.
    • An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April.
  • Coronavirus loan schemes: The application deadline for all coronavirus loan schemes, including the Future Fund, has been extended to 30 November 2020. The Government are currently working on a successor loan scheme, for introduction in January 2021.
  • Pay as you grow: The Government have introduced a ‘Pay as You Grow’ scheme for businesses which took out government guaranteed loans during the crisis allowing. Loans taken out under the Bounce Back Loan Scheme or the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) can be extended from six to ten years. Businesses who are struggling can choose to make interest only payments and can apply to suspend repayments altogether for up to six months.
  • VAT Deferral: Businesses who deferred their VAT will no longer have to pay a lump sum at the end of March 2021. They will now have the option of splitting it into smaller interest free payments over the course of 11 months. Any self-assessed income taxpayers who need extra financial assistance can also extend their outstanding tax bill over 12 months from January.
  • VAT for tourism and hospitality: The Government has extended the 15% VAT cut for the tourism and hospitality sectors to the end of March 2021.

Detailed information on the new measures can be read here.

The Government’s £1.57 billion support package

The Government have announced a £1.57 billion support package for key cultural organisations to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans. More inf0rmation can be found here.

 

From the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund the Government have held back £258m in reserve to provide us with flexibility to respond to the path of covid-19 and its impact. The Government will conduct a Spending Review this year and all decisions regarding funding for future financial years will be considered at that event.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England have announced £95m of additional support for individuals, which can include freelancers. This involves things such as an additional £75m in project grants. These will be focused on applications that maximise employment opportunities and those from under-represented groups and freelancers are eligible to apply to this directly. National Portfolio Organisations can also apply to create new work with bids that create employment opportunities prioritised.

 

A further round of the ACE programme ‘Discover Your Creative Practice’ will also open in the autumn, which will make approximately £18m available for individuals looking to develop new creative skills that will help them to further develop their career. ACE will also be adding £2m into relevant benevolent funds to support those less well supported by the programmes outlined above, including stage managers and technicians.

 

Wales launches fund to support creative freelancers affected by COVID-19

Freelancers working in the cultural and creative sectors in Wales will be able to apply for their share of a £7 million fund – which is targeted specifically at those in the freelance sector hit hardest by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The fund will open for applications on Monday 5th October and will run over two phases. Individuals can apply for a £2,500 grant and are asked to check their eligibility before the application process opens by visiting the Eligibility Checker for the Cultural Recovery Fund.

The scheme opened on 2 October 2020. Further details can be found on the Business Wales website.

 

Wales launches third phase of Economic Resilience Fund

The Welsh Government have opened their eligibility checker, which will enable businesses to see if they can access the third phase of the Economic Resilience Fund (ERF).

The Eligibility Checker for this part of the fund can be found here.

More information on the Economic Resilience Fund can be found here.

Update to Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

On 17 August 2020, the Government announced that the second stage of the ‘Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) was open for applications.

Those eligible for SEISS will receive a Government grant worth up to £6,570.  The Government has stated that over 2.7 million people benefited from the first stage of the SEISS, receiving a share of £7.8 billion in grant funding.

The self employed, who are eligible for funding, will receive a second and final grant worth 70 per cent of their average monthly trading profits, receiving the funds within six working days of making a claim.

Further information on the SEISS is available here.

The Government’s guidance on ‘Working Safely during Coronavirus’

The Government has published 14 guides on working safely during coronavirus, which cover a range of different types of work. The guidance is regularly updated.

The guidance can be read in full here. 

The Prime Minister’s briefing on the relaxation of Covid-related restrictions in England – 17 July 2020

The Prime Minister has delivered a Downing Street briefing to provide an update on the relaxation of Coronavirus-related social restrictions. The key changes in England only are summarised below:

  • Local authorities will be given new powers to close specific premises, shut outdoor spaces and cancel events to help contain outbreaks.
  • From today, the use of public transport is encouraged.
  • From 1 August 2020 the Government will update its advice on going to work. The Government will ask employers to decide on whether staff can come back to work. Employers should make decisions that comply with the requirement to have Covid-secure environments and in consultation with employees.
  • From 1 August 2020, bowling centres, skating rinks, casinos and beauty salons will be able to reopen. Indoor performances to live audiences will be restarted, subject to pilots.

The Prime Minister said that the Government ‘will not hesitate, at any stage, to put on the breaks’.

Government support for businesses:

On 8 July 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, set out the Government’s ‘Plan For Jobs’, designed to spur the UK’s recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak.

The key aspects of the plan are:

Job Retention Bonus: A Job Retention Bous will be introduced to help firms keep furloughed workers. UK Employers will receive a one-off bonus of £1,000 for each furloughed employee who is still employed as of 31 January 2021.

£2 billion Kickstart Scheme: The Kickstart Scheme will be launched to create hundreds of thousands of new, fully subsidised jobs for young people across the country. Those aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, will be eligible. Funding available for each six-month job placement will cover 100% of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week – and employers will be able to top this wage up.

Scaling up employment support schemes, training and apprenticeships: £1.6 billion will be invested to help people looking for a job. This investment includes:

    • £2,000 for businesses, for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the Government already provides for new 16-18-year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan.
    • £111 million to triple the scale of traineeships in 2020-21.
    • £17 million to triple the number of sector-based work academy placements in 2020-21.
    • Nearly £900 million to double the number of work coaches to 27,000; Over a quarter of a million more young people to benefit from an extra £32 million investment in the National Careers Service.

The Plan for Jobs document can be viewed here. A Government press release on the Chancellor’s statement can be viewed here.


Further support for businesses:

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Any employer in the country will be eligible for the scheme. Employers can contact HMRC to cover most of the wages of people who are kept on payroll. Grants will cover up to 80% of salaries up to £2,500 a month.

The scheme will end in October 2020.

The new guidance regarding the Job Retention Scheme can be found here.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The scheme provides loans of up to £5 million to small and medium-sized businesses via the British Business Bank. Businesses can access the first 12 months of the finance interest free.

This temporary scheme, originally launched in the Budget, has been brought forward and will be available in the week commencing Monday 23 March 2020.

More information including eligibility criteria can be found here.

On Friday 3 April 2020, the Chancellor extended the CBILS so that all viable small businesses affected by COVID-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing, will now be eligible should they need finance to continue operating.

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

On Friday 3 April 2020, the Government announced the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme.  This will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.

This aims to give banks the confidence to lend to more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus but which they would not lend to without CBILS. Loans backed by a guarantee under CBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest, and further details of the scheme are due to be announced later this month.

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals. The government will continue to cover the first 12 months of interest and fees.

Support for businesses who are paying sick pay to employees

SMEs will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID 19. Employers with fewer than 250 employees will be eligible. Employers should maintain records of staff absences and payments of SSP, but employees will not need to provide a GP fit note. Instead, any evidence that may be required can be obtained from NHS 111 online or from the NHS website.

The Government has said it will work with employers over the coming months to set up the repayment mechanism as soon as possible.

More information can be found here.

Support for businesses that pay little or no business rates

The Government will provide additional funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBBR). This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000.

If your businesses is eligible for SBRR or rural rate relief, you will be contacted by your local authority. You do not need to apply.

Larger companies can access support through the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

Under the new facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies. All UK businesses are eligible and the scheme will be available in the week beginning 23 March 2020.

More information from the Bank of England is available here.  

Support for business paying tax: Time to Pay Service and VAT deferral

All businesses and self-employed people in financial distress, and with outstanding tax liabilities, may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service.

Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis. The HMRC’s dedicated helpline is 0800 0159 559.

On Friday 20 March 2020, the Chancellor deferred the next quarter of VAT payments meaning no business will pay VAT between now and the end of June. Businesses will have until the end of the financial year to repay those bills.

HMT Future Fund

This scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The scheme will open in May 2020.

For further information, please see here.

Support for the self-employed:

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

The Government will pay self-employed people a taxable grant worth 80% of average monthly profits over the past three years up to £2,500 a month. The scheme will be open to people across the UK for three months and it will be extended if necessary.

The scheme will be open to anyone with trading profits up to £50,000.

People will be able to claim these grants and continue to do business.

To minimise fraud, only those already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019 can apply.

HMRC are working on the scheme and it is expected that people will be able to access the scheme no later than the beginning of June. HMRC will contact eligible individuals with an online form. The grant will be paid straight into bank accounts.

Anyone who missed the filing deadline in January will have four weeks from 26 March 2020 to submit their tax return.

The proposed measures for self-employed workers are broadly similar to those of the Job Retention Scheme and the formal guidance can be found here. More information is available here. Answers to FAQs can be found here.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme has also been extended with applications opening in August for a second and final grant. The grant will operate in the same way as the existing scheme with self-employed workers eligible for a single payment covering three months, at a level of 70% of average monthly earnings up to a maximum of £6,570 (i.e. down from 80% and a maximum of £7,500).

Interim support

The next Income Tax Self-Assessment payments, due in July, will be deferred for that month.

Self-employed individuals in temporary financial distress as a result of Covid-19 and who are unable to pay their tax on time or have existing liabilities are also eligible for Time to Pay. HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline to enable those eligible to get practical help and advice which can be reached by calling 0800 0159 559.

Freelancers and the self-employed may also benefit through the welfare system, including the £1,000 p.a. increase in the UC standard allowance, the equivalent increase in the basic rate of Working Tax Credit and the uprating of Local Housing Allowance.

Government is temporarily relaxing the Minimum Income Floor for all self-employed UC claimants for the duration of the outbreak. This means a drop in earnings due to sickness or self-isolation or as a result of the economic impact of the outbreak will be reflected in claimants’ awards.

Self-employed claimants will not be required to attend the job centre – UC can be claimed online or via phone.

Self-employed people unable to work because they are directly affected by Covid-19 or self-isolating will also be eligible for Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. As announced at Budget, this is now payable from the first day of sickness, rather than the eighth.

Bounce Back Loans Scheme

On 27 April 2020, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP, announced a new coronavirus loan scheme – Bounce Back Loans. The Chancellor has said that for this scheme, the Government will support lending by guaranteeing 100% of the loan. The details are included below:

  • Businesses can apply for new Bounce Back Loans worth up to 25% of turnover, up to a maximum of £50,000, with the Government paying the interest for the first 12 months.
  • The loans will be available from banks from 9.00am on Monday 4 May 2020.
  • There will be no-forward looking tests of business viability and no ‘complex eligibility criteria’.
  • Businesses will have to complete a ‘simple, quick, standard form’.
  • For most firms, loans should arrive within 24 hours of approval.

More information can be found here. The link to the Chancellor’s statement can be found here.

Education and childcare during coronavirus

The Government’s guidance for schools and other educational settings can be accessed here.

Specific Government guidance on safeguarding and remote education can be accessed here.

The Government’s guidance on keeping children save online during the COVID-19 outbreak can be accessed here.

TIGA’s top tips for parents can be found on our dedicated Consumer Advice page.

Important information:

The Government’s advice for parents and carers on how to keep children safe online during the coronavirus can be found here.

The latest Government updates and advice can be found here.

The Government’s advice to employers, employees and businesses can be found here. The dedicated Business Support website can be found here.

The most up-to-date NHS guidance can be found here.

The World Health Organisation have recommended some physical activities that can be done at home, including exercise classes, active video games and muscle and balance training. The link to the WHO’s Coronavirus advice page can be found here.

Ofcom have provided advice on how to stay connected during the coronavirus, with broadband and network connections being under high demand.

Creative Scotland have launched three funding programmes designed to provide further support to sustain the country’s creative community during the COVID-19 outbreak. These include the creative Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund, the Screen Scotland Bridging Bursary Fund and the Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development. These bursaries are aiming to support those most in need at this time. More information on the bursaries can be found here.

The Government have announced a £40 million boost for cutting-edge start-ups born out of the coronavirus crisis.

TIGA’s Coronavirus updates:

  • The Welsh Government’s fund to support creative freelancers affected by COVID-19 opens: 5 October 2020
  • The Government announces new guidance on from the £9 billion Job Retention Bonus: 5 October 2020
  • The Government updates the their Working Safely during coronavirus guidance: 28 September 2020
  • The Chancellor announces the Government’s Winter Economy Plan: 24 September 2020 
  • The Prime Minister announces new restrictions in response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases: 22 September 2020 
  • The Impact of Coronavirus on Education – A summary of OECD at a glance 2020: 21 September 2020 
  • The Government updates its guidance for Further Education colleges and providers, and specialist settings: 18 September 2020 
  • The Welsh Cultural Recovery Fund opens: 15 September 2020 
  • The Government announces new measures to control coronavirus: 10 September 2020 
  • The Government updates their Working Safely during coronavirus guidance: 10 September 2020 
  • The Government updates their guidance for the re-opening of higher education institutions: 10 September 2020 
  • Chair of DCMS Select Committee writes to the Chancellor regarding extending the furlough scheme for the arts and leisure sectors: 8 September 2020
  • The Government’s Kickstart Scheme opens for employer applications: 3 September 2020 
  • The Government encourages employers to sign up for apprentice cash boost: 2 September 2020 
  • Find out if you are eligible for support from the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund: 1 September 2020 
  • TIGA publishes Parliamentary activity update for the higher education sector: 21 August 2020
  • DCMS Survey on the impact of COVID-19 on business: 19 August 2020
  • The Government updates their ‘Working Safely during Coronavirus’ guidance: 14 August 2020
  • The Mayor of London, in partnership with Crowdfunder UK, announces a new £1 million ‘Back to Business Fund’: 12 August 2020
  • TIGA responds to the Lord’s Economic Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into ‘Employment and COVID-19: 7 August 2020 
  • The Government announces £20 million of funding to improve small business leadership: 4 August 2020 
  • The Government announces a new support service to help apprentices who have lost their job due to COVID-19: 3 August 2020
  • New funding announced to help Wales culture sector deal with the impact of coronavirus: 31 July 2020 
  • The Government announces ‘Jump Start’ for the UK’s Creative Industries: 30 July 2020 
  • Chair of the BEIS Committee calls on Government to learn lessons from gaps in worker and business support: 29 July 2020 
  • TIGA responds to the Welsh Parliament’s inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreak: 22 July 2020
  • TIGA comments on the Liberal Democrat pamplet ‘The Power of Creativity, Recovery and Renewal’: 18 July 2020 
  • The Government announce a scheme to help universities in financial difficulties: 17 July 2020
  • The Prime Minister has delivered a briefing on the relaxation of Covid-related restrictions in England: 17 July 2020 
  • TIGA responds to the BEIS Commitee’s Post-Pandemic Economic Growth Super-Inquiry: 17 July 2020
  • Chair of the DCMS Select Committee, Julian Knight MP, comments on Government announcement of £1.57 billion support package for cultural sector: 8 July 2020
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer sets out the Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’: 8 July 2020
  • TIGA submits five recommendations ahead of the Chancellor’s economic update on Wednesday 8 July: 7 July 2020
  • TIGA welcomes the Government’s £1.57 billion investment to protect Britain’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions: 6 July 2020
  • The Government has announced a £200 million package to help innovative businesses bounce back: 1 July 2020
  • The Government has announced support packages for researchers, scientists, and technicians working at universities during COVID-19: 1 July 2020
  • The Government changes eligibility for the Future Fund, meaning more start-ups and innovative firms can apply for investments: June 30 2020
  • Prime Minister announces easing of lockdown measures: 23 June 2020
  • Coronavirus creates remote working and financial challenges for the video games industry, says TIGA: 21 May 2020
  • The Government announces a £4 million boost for cutting-edge start-ups: 20 May 2020
  • The Government announces a £5 million COVID-19 Loneliness Fund: 15 May 2020 
  • The Government announces that they will support businesses through a Trade Credit Insurance guarantee: 14 May 2020 
  • The UK publishes its COVID-19 recovery strategy: 11 May 2020
  • The Prime Minister addresses the nation: 11 May 2020
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer announces the Bounce Back Loans Scheme: 27 April 2020
  • The Government’s furlough scheme cut-off date is extended to 19 March 2020: 15 April 2020 
  • The Chancellor strengthens support on offer for business: 3 April 2020 
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced additional measures of economic support for the self-employed: 26 March 2020
  • Business Support: The Government’s response to COVID-19: 25 March 2020
  • TIGA Survey: Covid-19, have your say: 23 March 2020
  • TIGA’s Top Tips for Working from Home: 23 March 2020
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced additional measures of economic support to protect jobs and incomes: 20 March 2020
  • TIGA has written to the Chancellor and other MPs to set out its Ten Proposals to Enable the Video Games Industry to Cope with Coronavirus: 20 March 2020
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced a £330 billion range of economic support measures in response to coronavirus: 17 March 2020
  • Prime Minister’s statement on COVID-19: 16 March 2020
  • COVID-19: Government announces moving out of contain phase and into delay: 13 March 2020
  • The Government releases action plan to tackle Coronavirus: 3 March 2020