The UK film and television industry could be set for a helpful boost over the coming years thanks to recently announced measures by the chancellor.
Some 130 trade bodies, producers, studios, and funders recently submitted a series of recommendations to the government’s Culture, Media, and Sport (CMS) Committee. These recommendations included enhanced tax credit for lower-budget productions and increased public funding for independent films.
On 22 November, the chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement, including updates responding to some of these recommendations designed to support the UK’s film and television industry.
Read on to discover the key points from the Autumn Statement that could affect the creative sector.
The UK is one of the top choices in the world for shooting blockbuster films, but the industry has highlighted the need to incentivise film-makers to choose UK providers for their visual effects (VFX). With higher levels of tax relief available elsewhere, many film productions have moved their VFX production overseas.
The UK Screen Alliance has reported that between 2017 and 2019, £1 billion of VFX expenditure on projects qualifying for UK tax relief was carried out overseas. This amounts to approximately half of all VFX work carried out on UK-qualified productions in that time period.
The chancellor announced that the government will extend the level of tax credits available through the Audio-Visual Expenditure Credit (AVEC) for VFX production. This measure will hopefully ensure that more productions choose the UK’s award-winning and world-class talent for their VFX projects.
The government will also work with the industry for insights, evidence of industry trends, and consultation on final policy documents to design additional tax relief measures, with the intention of rolling these out in April 2025.
One of the concerns raised by the recommendations in November was the difficulty facing the British Film Commission (BFC) and British Film Institute (BFI) Certification Unit. A lack of resources has prevented it from being able to properly assess applications, leading to delays in administering tax relief.
This issue has been addressed by the government with the announcement of an additional £2.1 million of funding in 2024 for the BFC and BFI Certification Unit. This will help to address the lack of resources.
In addition, the chancellor announced that the government will review public investment in research and development spending for the creative industries to a spending review time frame (usually two to four years).
Tax credits for the audio-visual sectors have been extended to cover a greater range of production types.
The chancellor had previously announced that animated feature films will be eligible for a 5% uplift in tax relief under the AVEC. The government has also amended the definition of a high-end television documentary to apply to the AVEC and align with guidance from the BFI.
In statements released from across the industry, prominent figures have welcomed the new measures.
Neil Hatton, CEO of UK Screen Alliance, said “This consultation and the promise of a more competitive incentive, announced today should aim to position the UK as the first choice destination for VFX production for international film and TV.”
Some, though, were disappointed that the measures did little to encourage investment in independent film in the UK.
The Producers Alliance for Television and Cinema (PACT) said “Ministers have missed an opportunity to remedy a clear market failure within the independent film sector […] investment into indie films has been in consistent decline and producers are finding it increasingly difficult to secure financing in a challenging market.”
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