The UK Government and governments in the devolved nations have put in place a number of measures to support the cinema sector during the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak.

The picture remains a developing one, so UK Cinema Association members are encouraged to check this page regularly for updates.

Where there are differing approaches by nation, these are noted below. Otherwise it should be assumed that the measures listed apply to all UK cinemas (although other eligibility criteria might apply).


The business rates holiday for all businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector has now been extended in England to the end of June 2021, after which point a discount of 66 per cent will apply until the end of the financial year 2021/22.

Businesses in Scotland and Wales will enjoy a full discount for the entirety of the financial year.


The UK Government has extended the reduction of VAT on cinema tickets and certain elements of food and drink until the end of September 2021. Until that point, the applicable rate will be reduced from 20 to 5 per cent, and then to 12.5 per cent until the end of the year.

More here.


The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘furlough’) has been extended to 30 September 2021.

During this period employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of their normal salary, capped at £2,500 per month, with the option of the employer making up the balance.

Until the end of June 2021, the Government will cover that furlough contribution, which in July will reduced to 70 per cent, with the employer being required to pay 10 per cent, and in August and September reduced to 60 per cent, with the employer being required to pay 20 per cent. Employers will be expected to cover only National Insurance and employer pension costs, ordinarily around 5 per cent of normal employment costs.

More here.


Restart Grants

Businesses re-opening in England but required to operate under COVID-19 restrictions will from 1 April 2021 be eligible for the following one-off grants:

  • for properties with a rateable value of £15,000k or under, a payment of £8,000;
  • for properties with a rateable value of between £15,000 and less than £51,000, a payment of £12,000;
  • for properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over, a payment of £18,000.

The above payments are per property, so one company can – subject to relevant State Aid provisions – receive multiple payments.

More here.

Strategic Business Framework Fund

Business required to close in Scotland as a result of COVID-19 are eligible for one-off grants as follows:

  • a one-off grant of £9,000 for relevant retail and leisure businesses with a rateable value of £51,001 or more;
  • a one-off grant of £6,000 for relevant retail and leisure businesses with a rateable value of up to and including £51,000

More here.

Details on similar schemes in Wales and Northern Ireland are awaited.


In the UK, all small and medium-sized businesses and employers will be able to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid to workers for sickness absence due to COVID-19.

The scheme is available to all of those with fewer than 250 employees as of 28 February 2020 and cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because of COVID-19.

More here.


In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, there will be a moratorium on lease forfeiture and debt recovery enforcement, now extended until the end of June 2021. This will prevent landlords of commercial properties from exercising any rights of forfeiture that may have been due to the non-payment of rents by tenants.

The provision simply delays the right of forfeiture; it does not otherwise impinge on a landlord’s right to claim forfeiture or recover rent at the end of that period.

More here.

In Scotland, legislation has been enacted which required commercial landlords to give tenants 14 weeks (as opposed to the previous 14 days) notice of termination of lease for non-payment of rent.

More here.


For further information on any of these elements, please contact the UK Cinema Association on

[Page last updated 1 April 2021]