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Report: Boom in UK screen industries

December 13, 2021

An independent report, Screen Business, published by the BFI, the UK organisation for film and the moving image, reveals the highest-ever return on investment to the UK economy of £13.48 billion [€15.83bn] (GVA) from the UK’s Government’s screen tax reliefs from 2017-2019. Over the period, spend on high-end TV production (HETV), surpassed that of film production.

The in-depth triennial report shows the tax reliefs generated record-breaking levels of production and jobs; grew local businesses and infrastructure expansion across the UK’s nations and England’s regions; attracted record levels of inward investment; boosted exports of UK productions and services internationally; and created wider economic benefits for other industries, including tourism and retail.

The report underlines how the strength and resilience of the screen industries pre-pandemic has enabled the production sector to bounce back so effectively and become one of the UK’s strongest booming industries with £4.7 billion production spend on film and high-end television alone from January to September 2021. Over the three year period of the report, direct spend on screen production in the UK has increased by 74 per cent between 2017 and 2019 to reach £13.86 billion (£7.94 billion, 2014-2016).

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The UK is home to some of the best creative talent in the world, and our TV and film industry is a jewel in our crown, driving hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions for the economy.

“We’ve ensured the sector has had our support throughout the pandemic, with the furlough and self-employment schemes, and the £500 million Film and TV production Restart Scheme is now helping productions get back up and running.”

“We continue to support the creative sector – our tax reliefs make the UK an attractive place to film and are driving a wave of private investment, and our Plan for Jobs is helping more people to enter the industry through apprenticeships, traineeships and the Kickstart scheme.”

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “This report shows just how important Government action has been in driving unprecedented growth across the screen industries. UK content not only keeps audiences at home and around the world entertained but also provides a huge boost to our economy.”

“We have backed our incredible screen sector during the pandemic, through the UK Film & TV Production Restart Scheme and the Culture Recovery Fund, to ensure the country cements its reputation as being the best place in the world to shoot high end film and TV.”

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive said: “We work with industry and Government to build the UK screen sector, and Screen Business is evidence of the strength of the tax reliefs and how they have supported a staggering level of production and jobs, and built business across the UK’s nations and regions.”

“It’s a testament to this strength that our screen industries have bounced back faster than almost any other industry post pandemic. As we look to the future we need to ensure that we stay on top of our game – by building the skilled workforce this level of production critically needs and increasing investment in areas across the UK where there are opportunities for growth and innovation.”

Screen Business analyses film and TV production and video games development spend over the latest three-year period of full data, 2017-2019. The report reveals that an estimated £1.02 billion in tax relief seeded £5.11 billion in direct production spend in 2019, a 61 per cent increase on 2016, and led to an additional £6.43 billion in GVA for the UK economy. UK-made productions generated £13.48 billion in overall GVA, a 23.7 per cent increase between 2017and 2019.

This GVA yielded £3.60 billion in tax revenues for the Exchequer in 2019, a 27 per cent increase since 2017. Production spend on film, high-end, children’s television and animation which would not take place without the tax reliefs, known as additionality, was worth £6.14 billion in 2019.

Direct spend on production generated record £5.11 billion in 2019 across all screen sectors, up from £4.31 billion in 2017:

  • £2.08 billion from high-end TV production (HETV), a 70 per cent increase on 2017;
  • £2.02 billion from film production; spend consistently exceeding £2 billion a year
  • £860.4 million (est.) from video games development supported by tax relief, 23 per cent up from £700.8 million (est.) in 2017
  • £86.0 million from children’s TV programme production, a 16 per cent increase on 2017
  • £65.3 million from animation programme production, a 27 per cent decrease on 2017
  • inward investment and co-production spend for film, high-end TV, animation and children’s programmes is driving boom with £3.45 billion in 2019, 81 per cent of total spend

Screen Business: How tax incentives power economic growth across the UK is a comprehensive analysis of the economic contribution of the tax reliefs for film, high-end television video games, TV animation programmes and children’s TV programmes. The report uses the latest complete dataset available from 2017-2019.

The report has been produced by the international consultancy Olsberg SPI with Nordicity and commissioned by the BFI, supported by industry partners including the British Film Commission (BFC), Pact, Pinewood Group, TIGA, Ukie, the UK Screen Alliance and Animation UK. The analysis is consistent with the 2018 edition of Screen Business and applies HM Treasury Green Book principles and best practice economic modelling to accurately estimated the impact of these important revenue-generating tax reliefs for the economy. 2019 is the latest year that full data can be provided to calculate and analyse the complete economic contribution of the screen sectors.

 John McVay OBE, Pact CEO, said: “The report once again shows the value of the TV and film tax reliefs to the UK economy, bringing huge inward investment to the UK, creating jobs and enabling small businesses across the UK to grow. The strength of the UK’s TV and film infrastructure – along with the Government’s Production Restart Scheme – has enabled producers to get back into production quickly to try and recoup the £450 million in lost revenues due to the pandemic. With staying in becoming the new going out over the past 18 months, never before has the UK’s status as a global leader in TV and film been more apparent.”

Adrian Wootton, CEO of the British Film Commission and Film London, said: “This report provides the comprehensive evidence, which we have experienced over the last few years, that there is an unprecedented boom in the popularity of this country – throughout our nations and regions – to make content for global audiences. We have embarked on a new Golden Age for film and TV, one that provides unrivalled opportunities for our industry, our economy and our communities to stimulate long- term job creation and prosperity for the whole of UK.

“It is more important than ever that we continue to focus on, invest and build the additional stage space, and skills base, right across our nations and regions. That will allow every corner of the United Kingdom to benefit from the new jobs and investment, and to share in the continuing success of one of our economy’s good news stories.”

Andrew M Smith, Corporate Affairs Director, Pinewood Group said: “Today’s report puts the data behind the UK’s success in delivering world-class films, television and video games thanks to our highly skilled workforce, state of the art facilities and fiscal incentives. Pinewood’s increased investment in new and expanded production facilities and training programmes underlines our confidence in the UK as a leading player in this global industry and the opportunities we have for further growth and success.”

Neil Hatton, Chief Executive, UK Screen Alliance, said: “This report underlines the strength of the UK’s VFX industry and shows steady growth over the three years prior to the pandemic. From evidence outside this report, we know that there is a huge opportunity for the UK to capture a greater share of the global VFX market and create many new jobs in the UK that have high levels of skill and productivity. Screen Business provides us with a springboard for conversations with government aimed at unlocking this considerable potential for further growth.”

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said: “The latest Screen Business report demonstrates the healthy growth of the UK’s video games and interactive entertainment ecosystem, one which is supporting jobs and contributing significantly to the economy right across the country. Policies such as Video Games Tax Relief have played an immensely important role in supporting our thriving sector, which is an important part of the creative economy. We look forward to working with Government to identify ways to continue to strengthen the ecosystem to create more jobs in this highly innovative and creative sector.”

Kate O’Connor, Executive Chair-Animation UK, said: “The UK’s animation sector is internationally renowned for its creativity, character development and storytelling. The introduction of the Animation Tax Relief had a dramatic impact on production spend, however, the period covered by this report shows for the first time a reported decline. The bigger picture is more revealing, because whilst production spend on animation for TV and online dipped, it increased significantly for animation films from £80 million to £520.4 million, which reflects expansion in the market for animated content overall. We are determined that the UK sector grows its market share and will look at factors in this period, including the increasingly competitive offers from other countries. There is no doubt that tax reliefs, as a fiscal lever, trigger growth.”



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