BFI Report Shows Screen Tax Breaks Boosted U.K. Economy by $18 Billion

A new report from the British Film Institute (BFI) reveals that film and high end TV tax breaks have resulted in the highest ever return on investment in the U.K.

The report, which covers the pre-pandemic period from 2017-2019, calculated that tax reliefs across film, high-end television, video games, children’s TV and animation contributed £13.48 billion (almost $18 billion) to the U.K. economy in 2019 thanks to record levels of production.

This amounts to a 56% increase in return on investment since 2016.

According to the report, titled “Screen Business,” every £1 of U.K. film tax relief generates £8.30 for the U.K. economy via direct spend on screen production (which has increased by 74% to £13.86 billion between 2017-19), local business and infrastructure growth, job opportunities, inward investment e.g. in studio space, exports of U.K. services and productions, travel, retail and tourism (Bath, for example, now offers a number of “Bridgerton” tours).

In 2019, the report found, £1.02 billion in tax relief resulted in direct production spend of £5.11 billion. This in turn resulted in an additional £6.43 billion return on investment to the U.K. economy.

It also yielded £3.60 billion in tax revenues, which went back into the Exchequer’s coffers.

The report comes amid a tangible production boom across the entire country, largely instigated by the streaming wars, with Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus all pitching up in the U.K. to create content alongside movie studios and Britain’s traditional broadcasters and indie production companies.

Amazon, for example, is moving season 2 of its upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series from New Zealand to Bray Film Studios in Maidenhead and Bovingdon Airfield in Hertfordshire next year.

Between January and September 2021 alone “Screen Business” cites a £4.7bn production spend on film and high-end television, despite the fact that for the first three months of the year the country was in its third national pandemic-induced lockdown.

While the production boom is great news for the U.K. economy – the report found jobs have increased by 45% and almost £1 billion will be invested in production facilities since 2016 – it has had a knock-on effect on smaller production companies and indie film producers, who are struggling to source crew, space and even equipment. In turn, scarcity has unsurprisingly led to price inflation.

“The U.K. 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,” Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said in a statement. “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 U.K. 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.”

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive added: “We work with industry and government to build the U.K. 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 U.K.’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 U.K. where there are opportunities for growth and innovation.”

The BFI’s “Screen Business” report, which is supported by industry partners including British Film Commission (BFC), Pact, Pinewood Group, TIGA, Ukie, the UK Screen Alliance and Animation U.K., was produced by Olsberg SPI with Nordicity.

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