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The government has granted an eight-month extension to its Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, which will now provide Covid insurance until December.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak outlined the move in today’s Budget. The £500m fund has backed more than 160 qualifying productions since it opened for applications in October last year.

The government calculates that it has protected around 20,000 jobs on productions hit by Covid and generated £680m of economic activity.

An earlier extension of the fund, which was due to run until April, widened its scope to cover cast or crew members aged over 70.

Bectu head Philippa Childs warmly welcomed the extension, describing the fund as “government intervention at its best”, while Pact chief John McVay said today’s move is a “huge result and credit to the industry yet again making a compelling case” for the scheme.

Sunak also extended the furlough scheme to September, almost three months after lockdown restrictions are currently set to end.

Employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary (up to £2,500 per month), although employers will have to contribute 10% in July and 20% in August and September.

Since launching last April, the scheme has protected more than 11m jobs, according to the Treasury.

The Budget also included details of a £220m three-year Help to Grow scheme, which aims to support up to 30,000 small and medium-sized businesses with subsidised 12-week management and leadership courses.

The government’s topping up of its apprenticeship Levy received a cooler extension. Raising the payment to companies that hire an apprentice aged 16-24 from £2,000 to £3,000, plus a further £7m for ‘flexi’ options for the creative industries, was “underwhelming and insufficient,” said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

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