Animation UK, producers’ trade body Pact and Creative England were among the organisations to welcome today’s news of tax breaks for high-end drama, animation and video games in the country.
The UK television industry has been celebrating following confirmation today from chancellor George Osborne that a new tax credit system will ease the financial burden on the creative media industries.
Animation UK, a lobby group set up and led by Blue Zoo owner Oli Hyatt to campaign for production incentives similar to those in Ireland, Canada and elsewhere, gathered the support of companies including Aardman Animations, Classic Media, Hit Entertainment, Chapman, Millimages, Entertainment One and others.
Hyatt said: “This is the news we have been waiting for. Our industry has an enviable heritage that we are all proud of. Overseas animators have long received support from their governments and hopefully now our industry will be able to compete on a level playing field.”
Companies such as Aardman have repeatedly threatened to quit the UK if the government didn’t do something to make the market fairer. Today, the chancellor singled out the company’s most famous property, Wallace and Gromit, for special mention.
“It’s the determined policy of this government to keep Wallace and Gromit exactly where they are,” said Obsorne in his 2012 budget statement.
Aardman’s head of broadcast Miles Bullough said: “We believe that the tax credit for UK animation will be transformational for our industry. We have seen a dramatic decline on UK television of home-produced animation and we now have a shot at reversing that trend. The credit will create thousands of UK jobs and our research shows that there will be a long-term financial gain for the UK.”
Hyatt said of the wider animation industry: “It would have been a crime for it to disappear from the UK, and that was a very real threat. Today’s announcement will hopefully guarantee the long-term survival of our industry and ensure it continues to be an industry we are proud of.”
He added that the organisation would continue to work with the government to shape future regulation, which will be drawn up together with the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) under culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Animation UK patron Mark Field MP commented: “Finally, we have the level playing field our creative industries so deserve. Combined with our animators’ flair and talent, this fantastic boost will help keep some of our favourite characters animated on these shores.
“As the chancellor has declared, the government is determined to keep Wallace and Gromit where they are. I am so glad that he and the culture secretary have recognised the enormous value of the UK’s creatives – a value that’s not just economic but cultural. This is brilliant news for our families, the economy and this vibrant industry.”
It’s not only the animation sector that stands to benefit – tax breaks for high-end drama and the video games industry were also unveiled.
The DCMS said on its website that such measures would reverse a trend of UK productions being made overseas and attract foreign companies to make their progammes in the UK.
It listed some key facts and figures from all three industries:
Pact, which represents UK indies and has been involved in its own lobbying activities while also lending support to Animation UK, today added its voice to the industry welcome.
CEO John McVay said: “Pact has worked closely with the tax credit campaigns to convince government that these tax breaks will have a material impact for independent producers’ programmes, resulting in more employment and IP being retained in the UK by independent producers across the country. Pact is committed to working with the government and industry as the consultation on implementation progresses to ensure that the benefits of this public support can be realised as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”
The Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) represents leading commissioners and producers of high-end TV drama and animation. It counts NBCUniversal, which co-finances Downton Abbey with ITV, among its members. Other shows that have benefited from COBA constituent funds including Mad Dogs on Sky1 and HBO’s Game of Thrones, whose boost to the Northern Irish production sector was cited in the report outlining the benefits of a tax incentive.
COBA executive director Adam Minns said today: “COBA members are amongst the leading commissioners and producers of high-end television and animation content on a global basis. Many of them are substantially increasing their investment in television content in local markets as part of their strategies for growth.
“A properly constructed UK tax credit will help ensure the UK remains competitive in attracting culturally British productions, and COBA members look forward to working with government and industry to take forward the chancellor’s commitment today.”
Creative England, which was set up last autumn following the abolition of the UK Film Council, added warm words to the news. “Maintaining a leading edge and attracting audiences in this internationally competitive environment takes a huge amount of investment to attract talent and maintain innovation,” said the organisation’s CEO Caroline Norbury.
“The tax breaks announced today will give our creative companies more freedom to concentrate on what they do best. It will help them compete at an international level, preserving the UK’s place as a world leader in animation, video games and high-quality television.”