MPs call for targeted film and TV tax support
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has written to the chancellor, urging the Government not to be “complacent” when it comes to targeted tax support for the production of film and high-end television.
The letter to Jeremy Hunt has been sent ahead of next week’s Autumn Statement. It follows the committee’s inquiry into British film and high-end TV, which featured more than 130 written submissions on the most common and urgent issues facing the sector.
In the missive, chair Caroline Dinenage calls for target tax support, stating: “The UK has an internationally competitive tax relief system, but we cannot be complacent as more and more countries seek to attract production to their own shores.”
She adds that while Government plans for Audio-Visual Expenditure credits are welcomed, there is “opportunity for even greater ambition.”
It comes after the chancellor announced earlier this year that government would increase its tax credits for high-end TV projects, with the introduction of new ‘expenditure credits’ with a headline rate of 34% for films and high-end TV programmes.
Now Dinenage has now echoed industry calls for targeted tax support to ensure more visual effects work takes place in the UK, along with reform of the apprenticeship levy, in response to the written submissions.
This written evidence came from across the sector, including companies such as Amazon, Warner Bros and industry bodies such as ScreenSkills and the British Film Institute.
The UK Screen Alliance wrote that the UK is at risk of losing its position as a world leader in visual effects and that targeted tax relief would be a big opportunity for levelling up.
“We have also heard concerns about the Government’s definition of documentary programming, and that the new rules around connected party transactions would make the UK less competitive,” the letter continued.
“We hope the Government will heed the sector’s concerns and address these provisions when finalising the new system.”
The committee will start taking oral evidence in the new year related to the UK’s production sector.
The full letter to the chancellor is below:
British Film and High-End Television: Priorities at Autumn Statement
As you will be aware, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee is currently looking into the UK’s attractiveness as a global destination for the production of film and high-end television, and the challenges facing the UK’s independent production sector.
Ahead of the Autumn Statement, we are writing to highlight some of the most common and urgent issues raised in the more than 130 written evidence submissions to our inquiry, which we are publishing today.
The UK has an internationally competitive tax relief system, but we cannot be complacent as more and more countries seek to attract production to their own shores. We welcome the Government’s plans for Audio-Visual Expenditure Credits; however, there is opportunity for even greater ambition.
We therefore echo the industry’s calls for targeted tax support to ensure more visual effects work takes place across the whole of the UK. We are encouraged that the Government has been considering the case for this intervention, but time is of the essence: decisions on where this work is conducted are made years in advance, so an announcement now will ensure the UK can fully compete as and when work resumes following the strikes in the US.
We have also heard concerns about the Government’s definition of documentary programming, and that the new rules around connected party transactions would make the UK less competitive. We hope the Government will heed the sector’s concerns and address these provisions when finalising the new system.
We will be considering the case for further tax incentives outlined in the evidence we have received, for example to support lower budget British films or incentivise regional production, during our inquiry and look forward to engaging with Government on them next year.
While financial incentives make Britain an attractive destination for productions, it is our people that truly makes us stand out among our global competitors. Our highly talented and respected workforce in front of and behind the camera is what makes the British film and television industry thrive. Yet, the evidence we have received highlights widespread concerns around the training, recruitment and retention of skilled workers that are essential to the sector.
We will be considering these issues in detail, but the evidence received so far has already highlighted that the current form of the apprenticeship levy is not working effectively for the screen sector. The industry have been making the case for reform to the levy, to make it more flexible and applicable to them, for a considerable time: given the risk that a shortage of skilled workers poses to our attractiveness as a home for production, we believe that there is no room for delay.
We are grateful for your consideration of these issues ahead of the Autumn Statement.
Dame Caroline Dinenage DBE MP
Chair, CMS Committee
This article first appeared on our sister site, Broadcast.
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