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In a bid to keep creative talent and stimulate the digital economy in Britain, UK Chancellor George Osborne announced, in his budget statement yesterday, a tax credit scheme for TV production, gaming companies and animation firms is to be introduced. This appears to partially be born from Osborne keeping Wallace and Gromit animators Aardman in Britain after last month when Aardman themselves admitted they were thinking about moving production abroad to save money. And to stop the recent trend of UK productions being shot overseas - such as The Tudors, Camelot and the Julian Fellowes’ drama Titanic. Companies such as Monterosa, Screach, Tellybug and other second screen, 'social tv', 'media convergence' companies in the UK should also qualify under the new scheme.
“It is the determined policy of this government to keep Wallace and Gromit exactly where they are,” the Chancellor said. Osborne added: "Not only will this help stop premium British TV programmes like Birdsong being made abroad, it will also attract top international investors such as Disney and HBO to make more of their premium shows in the UK. It will support our brilliant video games and animation industries, too.”
The move follows a major campaign by TV drama producers and animation companies for tax relief, in a bid to stem the large numbers of British productions that are now shooting oversees in tax friendly countries. British animations currently made abroad include Thomas the Tank Engine (Canada), Bob the Builder (USA) and Noddy (Republic of Ireland), while dramas shot outside the UK include Julian Fellowes' Titanic (Hungary), the Tudors (Republic of Ireland) and Birdsong (Hungary).
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, tweeted just after the budget announcement: “Tax breaks for video games, TV and animation in the budget. Labour only talked about helping video game ind but we’re doing all three!”
And some more quotes from the FT:
“Tax relief for the video games sector will increase employment, innovation and investment in the UK video games industry. Tax breaks for games production will ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of video game development. It will also help to rebalance the UK economy away from an over-reliance on financial services towards a high skill, R&D-intensive and export-focused industry,” said Richard Wilson, Tiga (The Independent Game Developers’ Association).
“The TV industry has been crying out for tax credits for drama production for years. Hopefully this will be the first step in putting Britain back on the map as a cost-effective destination for drama production. That should tempt more overseas production companies to shoot dramas here in the UK, just as we’ve seen happen in film,” said Andrew Ledger from Barclays.
“For many years the games industry has asked to be recognised for the value it drives, in a manner similar to the film Industry. It looks like it’s now game on with the chancellor announcing tax breaks will extend to games, and some TV productions come back into the tax relief net too. This is good news for the British industry as it was under increasing competitive pressure from other countries offering lucrative credits,” said Barry Murphy, tax partner at PwC .