BFI-UKFC merger abandoned

U.K. tax credit safe; gov't reassesses support

The U.K. government’s emergency June budget, addressing the country’s massive deficit, left the film tax credit untouched.

But the minister for communications and creative industries Ed Vaizey has confirmed that plans to merge the U.K. Film Council and British Film Institute were off.

“I am planning to reassess fundamentally how the government supports film in this country,” he said, when questioned on Tuesday about the merger initiated by former secretary of state for culture Ben Bradshaw. “I want to make sure that we are supporting the film industry so that it is ready for the challenges it will face in the decade to come, and that we make sure every pound of public money we spend gives maximum benefit.”

John Woodward, CEO at the U.K. Film Council, was relieved the film funding hadn’t been hit in a budget that made swinging reductions across other services. But he said further cuts to the UKFC wouldn’t become clear until the government’s public spending review in October.”It’s nearly a year since the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) initiated merger discussions,” he said. “Since then the political and economic landscape has been turned on its head. We’re now in a different world and it’s clear from the chancellor’s budget that the next few months will see further public funding cuts coming the way of all sectors.”

He added: “We will therefore need to work even harder during this period to ensure that film maintains its place at the center of British culture. We welcome the new government’s clear commitment to retaining the U.K. film tax relief and lottery funding for film, but only when we get past October’s public spending review will we know the full picture for public funding for film over the next few years.”

The DCMS has to reduce its spending by at least 25% over the next four years and although specifics are not yet known, this cut could affect the UKFC’s Grant-in-Aid funding. About 60% of its Grant-in-Aid funding goes to the BFI.

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