UK’s film and television industry given further boost in Budget

Enhancements to the Film and High-end Television Tax Reliefs, alongside the introduction of a Children’s Television Tax Relief originally outlined in last December’s Autumn Statement, were today confirmed by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his Budget announcement.

The enhancements to the High-End Television Tax Relief will see the minimum UK expenditure requirement lowered from 25% to 10%, and the UK Cultural Test modernised bringing it in line with the Film Tax Relief. The Film Tax Relief will itself be enhanced, with the rate of relief being increased to 25% for all qualifying expenditure on higher budget productions (features with budgets over £20 million); previously the first £20 million had received this rate of relief, with excess qualifying expenditure receiving a 20% tax credit.

The High-end Television Tax Relief was introduced in April 2013 and has been hugely successful, leading to a surge in high-end television production in the UK, with total production spend in 2014 reaching £615m. Since its introduction, major international titles choosing to base themselves in the UK have included 24: Live Another Day (Twentieth Century Fox Television) and major UK/US co-production The Casual Vacancy (HBO/BBC). The relief has also allowed the production of culturally British titles such as the critically acclaimed Wolf Hall (Playground Entertainment/Company Pictures) to remain in the UK. Today’s adjustments to the relief hope to attract further domestic and international investment for the UK and encourage further co-productions between the UK and international partners.

Lower threshold enables greater flexibility

Similar enhancements to the Film Tax Relief last April have enabled productions shooting outside the UK to still take advantage of the UK’s Oscar-winning VFX and post houses. Warner Bros.’ sci-fi epic Geostorm is just one example of a recent production which chose to utilise UK VFX talent despite shooting overseas. Conversely, projects accessing VFX and post overseas can take advantage of the UK’s world famous studios and diverse and stunning locations.

The enhancements made to the Film Tax Relief’s rate of relief will aim to further strengthen film production in the UK. The existing structure and stability of the relief, along with public and commercial investment in skills training and infrastructure, already enabled the UK film industry to achieve record-breaking success in 2014, generating £1.47m of film production spend.

The Chancellor also confirmed the introduction of a Children’s Television Tax Relief, which will bring children’s television in line with film, high-end television and animation by offering qualifying productions a 25% rebate on expenditure in the UK. The relief further enhances the UK’s reputation as a major global destination for film, television and animation production.

Children’s TV Tax Relief a “logical step”

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of the British Film Commission and Film London, said of today’s statement: “The UK is a creative powerhouse, and today’s enhancements can only help our screen industries go from strength to strength. Governmental support has proven invaluable, so the new Children’s Television Tax Relief is an incredibly positive step. Similarly, the enhancements to the High-End Television, Animation and Film Tax Reliefs will make the UK an even more popular destination for international clients and potential co-producers. This, of course, will in turn help our award-winning infrastructure thrive while creating new jobs and encouraging new investment.

The Children’s Television Tax Relief and enhancements to the Film Tax Relief and High-end Television Tax Relief will be effective from 1 April 2015, subject to receiving EC State Aid Approval.