Covid 19 virus

Covid-19 advice for WGGB members

**READ OUR RESPONSE TO THE GOVERNMENT’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS HERE**

We know that our members are concerned about the impact of Covid-19 on their health and their working lives. We want to reassure you that as your union we’re here to support you and to give you the advice and information you need during this difficult time.

You can see a list of useful resources below – this list will be updated regularly, so please bookmark this page and keep checking back.

We will also be stepping up our campaigning work on your behalf – talking to broadcasters, theatres, industry bodies, policy makers and working with other entertainment unions to ensure that writers’ rights are firmly on the agenda in the coming months (for details of how you can get involved, see the Online activism section below).

Our office arrangements during the crisis

All WGGB staff are able to work remotely, and will be doing so until further notice so we can protect their health and safety, and to ensure that the union will continue to operate its services to members as usual. We therefore ask during this time that you email our staff rather than phone the office and you can find individual contact emails, plus a list of the different services our staff provide (including support and advice) here. If you are unable to email please do phone the office on 020 7833 0777 and leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Online joining and renewal of WGGB subscriptions via our website will continue as usual. Online joining and renewal of subscriptions via cheque or direct debit may experience a short delay, but we will aim to keep this to a minimum. Applications to the WGGB pension scheme will continue to be processed as usual, although there may be a short delay.

There may be a delay in you receiving your membership card during this time. You can still use your membership number to access exclusive member discounts. You will find this number on email correspondence from us but if you are unsure what your membership number is, please email rose@writersguild.org.uk

For those concerned about their health:

  • Access the NHS advice pages for regular updates
  • Public Health England offers further advice
  • Mental health charity Mind has produced advice for those feeling anxious or worried about the virus.
  • Anxiety UK has also produced advice for those feeling anxious.
  • You can find other mental health support resources on our website.

For those concerned about work:

  • Creative Industries Federation has brought together advice from across the sector which it is updating regularly. You can find it here.
  • SOLT/UK Theatre have a free helpline for theatre professionals.
  • Leading theatrical charities have come together to support those working in the industry during the crisis and have produced the Theatre Support Info website with advice on work, mental health, financial support and more.
  • Arts Council England has pledged to support the arts sector during this time and freelancers working within it. You can find their latest information here and details of funding for freelancers in the section on finances, below.
  • FEU Training is free to all WGGB members and is expanding its online programme of training during the crisis. There will be more webinars, e-courses, online tutorials and interactive learning activities offering business skills for creative freelances. Find out more.

For those concerned about finances:

  • WGGB has a Welfare Fund for members experiencing urgent financial difficulty. Full details and an application form. The fund needs urgent donations, so if you would like to make a donation to the fund and help WGGB members who may be struggling during the crisis, please email nadine@writersguild.org.uk
  • We have welcomed the Government’s package of financial support to help the self-employed during the crisis. Full details of the package.
  • The Government has also made some temporary changes to the benefit system to make it easier for self-employed people to claim Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance. Self-employed people can now access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Satutory Sick Pay (£94.25 per week for up to 28 weeks). Read up on the full Government advice. The website Entitled To has a handy benefits calculator on its website, plus special information about state benefits and the Covid crisis. You can find it here.
  • The Government has announced three-month mortgage payment holidays for those struggling to make payments during the Covid-19 crisis. You should talk to your mortgage provider about how to arrange this.
  • In addition, the Government has announced that it will be passing legislation to protect people who rent their homes from eviction – we will provide details and links when more information becomes available.
  • HMRC has set up a special helpline for self-employed people concerned about meeting tax payments during this time. The number is 0800 0159 559 and you can find more information here.
  • The Film and TV Charity Support line is available 24/7 on 0800 054 00 00. It offers emotional support, advice and also support grants if you’re experiencing significant financial difficulties.
  • Arts Council England has launched £20 million of funding for individuals, including creative freelancers, to sustain them and their work during the crisis. Full details.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau has web and phone support for people during the crisis, including online resources, a national helpline and how to access online and phone support in your local area. Find out more here.
  • The Royal Theatrical Fund provides support for people who have worked in the entertainment industry – this includes financial support, but also visits and phone calls and advice on benefits and debt.
  • The Turbine Theatre charity is crowdfunding to provide financial support for creatives and others freelancers working in theatre. Find out how you can apply to the fund and make a donation here.
  • The Society of Authors and partner organisations including ALCS have established a £330,000 emergency fund to support authors through the crisis. Find out more here.
  • The BFI and Film and TV Charity have set up a new Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Fund with £1 million donated from Netflix to help support the film and TV community affected by Covid-19. Find out more.

Covid-19 online activism:

  • The Government listened to our calls and those of other unions and bodies representing the creative industries and self-employed when it announced a package of financial support for freelancers on 26 March 2020. We will be closely monitoring the situation and continue to talk to policy makers to make sure our members’ voices are heard and that they get the support they have been promised. Watch this space for how you can get involved.
  • The BBC has been doing vital work during the Covid-19 crisis, from providing up-to-date news and advice to supporting the education of children unable to attend school. Yet its future is under threat. We are urging members to respond to a current Government consultation on decriminalising non-payment of the Licence Fee – we have produced advice on how to do this here.
  • The TUC has a range of resources on the coronavirus, including a petition calling on decent sick pay for every worker.
  • The Covid-19 Mutual Aid Network has been formed across the UK, providing support for those in self-isolation. Volunteers are holding meetings online via WhatsApp and Facebook groups. The best way to find out the nearest local group to you is to search under ‘Covid Mutal Aid’ on Facebook.

Photo: Shutterstock.com/NadezdaMurmakova

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