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BFI chief executive Ben Roberts responds to the Chancellor’s Budget statement

Mar 16, 2023

The package sets out increasing support for children’s television and animation television and continuing support for film, high end television and video games.

The chancellor of the exchequer has announced a package of reforms to the audio-visual tax reliefs as part of today’s Spring Budget statement. This announcement follows the HM Treasury consultation on changes to the tax reliefs relating to film, high end TV, animation, children’s television and video games published in November. The reforms announced today are intended to ensure the audio-visual tax reliefs remain world leading and drive growth in the UK’s dynamic creative sector.

Ben Roberts, chief executive BFI said

‘We welcome the Chancellor’s news today of the reformed Expenditure Credits across our screen industries, a testament to how crucial they are to the UK’s economy and growth. Combined with our extraordinary talent, infrastructure and technical and creative expertise the screen sector Tax Reliefs, now remodelled as Expenditure Credits, have super charged our industry on an unprecedented scale. The news today will ensure the UK remains a truly globally competitive production hub, giving us economic recovery and growth, creating thousands of jobs for people up and down the country and enabling creative talent and storytelling to thrive.

It’s good news that the high end TV threshold has been preserved. I am particularly heartened to see a much needed boost for children’s television and animation as two areas of cultural and societal importance in which the UK excels creatively, but that still have significant growth potential. I look forward to reading the further detail in the draft legislation that will be published this summer.’

At the core of the reforms is the decision to move all five reliefs to a refundable expenditure credit model. The audio-visual expenditure credit will cover the current film and TV tax reliefs and the video games expenditure credit will cover the video games tax relief.

Under the audio-visual expenditure credit, film and high end TV (HETV) will be eligible for a credit rate of 34%. This is slightly higher than the equivalent credit relief under the current regime, which would have been 33.33%. The video games expenditure credit will also have a credit rate of 34%. Animation and children’s TV will have a credit rate of 39%, which is a significant increase in the generosity of relief when compared to the current regime.

Other key decisions announced include:

The £1 million per hour expenditure credit threshold for high end TV will remain unchanged.

The minimum slot length for high end TV will be reduced to 20 minutes, and applied on an episode-by-episode basis.

A definition of a documentary will be put into legislation and will be based on guidance currently used by the BFI. Final wording and exclusions to the definition will be published as part of draft legislation in Summer 2023 for comment.

Qualifying expenditure for the video games expenditure credit will be expenditure on goods and services that are used or consumed in the UK.

The expenditure credits will be available to claim from 1 January 2024. However, to give companies time to adjust there will be a transition period. Film and TV programmes that have not concluded principle photography, and video games in development, on 1 April 2025 may continue to claim the existing tax reliefs until 31 March 2027.

The government has committed to work with industry and provide substantial guidance and education about how the expenditure credits will operate to support the transition for companies. Further details on all reforms can be found in the government’s summary of responses:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1142803/M5082_Government_response_to_consultation_on_audio_visual_tax_reliefs_.pdf

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