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18/08/2000

UK TREASURY UNDER PRESSURE FROM FILM INDUSTRY

BRITISH filmmakers are putting pressure on the UK treasury to extend the 100 per cent tax relief concession on film making beyond 2002.
Filmmakers say that the current tax relief scheme has given dozens of small UK film producers the ability to follow through with their productions.
The 1997 Finance Act introduced the tax break for film productions with budgets of less than £15m, and offers 33.33 per cent annual tax relief over three years for films costing more than £15m.
Various bodies involved in film such as the Film Council and the Producers Association for Cinema and Television (PACT)are hopeful that an extension to the concession beyond 2002 can be won. Both PACT and the Film Council indicate that Gordon Brown may make an announcement in his autumn pre-budget report.
The Film Council, set up in May with a £22m budget to develop a strategy for the UK industry, also wants to see the concession continued. The Council, viewed as an important initiative by the industry and the government, has lobbied for the tax relief initiative to be kept in place.
The main objective of the Film Council is to develop a coherent strategy for film culture, the development of the film industry and the encouragement of inward investment. It is working towards developing a strong film culture by improving access to and education about film in a sustainable UK film industry.
The extension to the tax concession would allow the Film Council to move forward and meet these objectives, as well as giving substantial indirect financial support to producers.
In order that many of the up and coming productions will qualify for tax relief the extension must be announced in the autumn budget this year.
If the concession, which is only granted at the end of a film production, is removed it means that producers will have only two years to complete any current projects.
Bertrand Moulliers head of film at PACT said: “The Treasury don’t like tax breaks, but have been sensitive that this mechanism has helped remedy the UK market. They are vital if the UK is going to be considered by Hollywood as a production location.”
Last year only 10 out of the 70 British films released took in more than £2m compared to Hollywood films where where profits are regularly exceed £50m.
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