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UK gov’t defends drama tax break system

The UK government has defended the incoming television tax break system, following concerns the scheme would favour US companies over UK drama producers.

Earlier this week, Justin Thomas-Glover and Patrick Irwin of UK-based drama financing consultancy Far Moor launched a scathing attack on the system, which comes into effect on April 1.

They claimed the government had favoured advice from the likes of Disney and HBO over struggling UK producers and that many UK firms did not properly understand how to qualify for relief or exactly what was on offer.

However, a UK Treasury spokesperson defended its consultancy process and again claimed the tax breaks would “be among the most generous in the world, offering payable credits worth up to 25 per cent of all qualifying UK expenditure”.

“In order to ensure that the relief effectively targets new activity that rather than simply supporting activity that would have taken place in the UK anyway, the Government has consulted publicly on a straightforward definition to target high-end television programmes. In addition, all productions will need to be certified as culturally British by passing a cultural test to be eligible for relief,” the spokesperson added.

The Treasury countered Far Moor’s claim many UK drama producers could miss out on tax relief because a standard broadcaster tariff for an hour-long slot was less than the £1 million-plus stipulated by the system.

“This is a simple and straightforward definition that had wide backing from respondents to the consultation and will ensure that the relief targets those productions that otherwise risk being made overseas,” it said.

The Treasury also claimed it would provide an additional £8 million (US$12.1 million) over the next two years to support small film, television and digital content producers.