Advanced Television

UK gov lauds creative industry support package

April 14, 2023

By Colin Mann

Global productions nominated for BAFTAs and Academy Awards survived and thrived through the pandemic thanks to the UK government’s film and TV support package, which also boosted the country’s economy by £2.25 billion (€2.54bn).

Oscar-nominated film Living, Bafta nominees Brian & Charles, Blue Jean and Good Luck To You, Leo Grande, as well as major productions including Gentleman Jack, Peaky Blinders and His Dark Materials (pictured), were all supported by the scheme. Smaller productions including Help and Steph’s Packed Lunch were also supported.

The findings are revealed in an independent report assessing the success of the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, which was launched in July 2020 and has supported more than 1,200 productions.

The scheme was introduced when the country’s world-class screen industries were struggling to obtain Covid-related insurance cover from commercial insurers. It protected production companies in the event of new restrictions or outbreaks on set among cast and crew which could force a shutdown.

Productions using the scheme created 63,500 crew positions, plus a further 37,100 cast roles, meaning a total of up to 100,600 production industry workers were given a lifeline by the scheme during an extremely challenging economic period. The report also shows the scheme created 48,500 full-time jobs both directly in the sector and indirectly through supply chains.

The report, carried out by Nordicity & Saffery Champness LLP, found total benefits generated by the scheme were 115 times greater than the cost of delivery. The scheme contributed £2.25 billion to the economy thanks to the jobs created and positive impact on the sectors’ supply chains and wider economy, with costs to the government expected to be just £19.6 million. This is lower than anticipated thanks to effective work by film and TV companies to manage the risks of Covid during production.

A survey of producers showed that, on average, 73 per cent of registered productions would not have been able to spend the amount of money they did if the scheme did not exist, meaning it helped to ensure the continued growth of the sectors.

“Our screen industries are an economic powerhouse and we should be proud that the UK is firmly established as one of the best places in the world to create blockbuster content,” declared Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer. “When the pandemic threatened that success we stepped in to protect jobs, keep cameras rolling and ensure our producers could keep making the exceptional content that the UK is famous for.”

“The Film and TV Restart Scheme protected productions that supported jobs, contributed to our economy and entertained audiences across the world.”

“The swift actions of the UK Government to set up the PRS at a time of unprecedented crisis in the UK’s Film and TV industry showed that by working closely with a major UK industry public funds could be effectively used to support one of the UK’s key economic and cultural industries,” added John McVay, chief executive of the screen industry trade body Pact. “The PRS saved many small British production businesses from failing while also helping support significant employment. But more importantly ensured that the UK public could continue to enjoy great British programmes and films.”

“Setting up the Film and Television Production Restart Scheme showed government and industry working together at their best and at speed, enabling cameras to roll and businesses, cast and crew to get back to work,” commented Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive. “Making this happen at a crucial time after production had ground to a halt will always be appreciated by the sector. It has played a major part in the industry’s recovery out of the pandemic; in doing so, enabled the industry to get more than a thousand productions made, contributed billions in production spend and revenues to economy and maintained global confidence in our world-leading production industry.”

Thanks to the scheme, productions could continue creating new content for audiences around the world while curbs remained on their social lives. It also enabled our world-class film and TV industries to continue to drive economic growth and create new jobs.

The scheme supported a large number of productions outside of London, with a total of 58 per cent of film and TV productions registered by the scheme based outside the capital.

Now that restrictions have ended, the film and TV sectors have been able to reach new heights thanks to the strong government backing they received during the pandemic. 2022 saw a record £6.27 billion of production spend in the UK and the sectors are continuing to grow the economy and create jobs across the entire country.

Stephen Bristow, partner at Saffery Champness and one of the lead authors of the report, said: “The film and TV industry is one of the UK’s true success stories, delivering huge amounts of domestic and international economic value. The sector has recovered strongly from Covid-19, where factors ranging from lockdowns of filming locations through to sickness of cast members and crew posed a huge threat and stopped many productions in their tracks. The Production Restart Scheme was a critical lifeline at this time, with the government stepping in to provide financial peace of mind where the emerging situation was too volatile for the commercial insurance market to perform its usual role. What’s clear is that the government, and taxpayer, got real value for money from the scheme with a significantly higher return on investment than the government’s standard benchmark. Indeed, without the scheme in place the government would likely have faced significantly higher costs through supporting out of work film and TV employees through CJRS, SEISS or Universal Credit.”

“The government has continued to recognise the importance of the film and TV industry, stepping up and taking action as required – whether that’s the Production Restart Scheme or the recent reforms to tax credits. That should rightly be applauded, and is a signal that the industry is poised for continued growth and vitality.”

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