The screen industries in general did not welcome the vote to leave the EU but the subsequent fall in the value of sterling has been good for inward investment business to film studios and VFX companies.
Brexit issues are likely to dominate the political and economic agenda for next few years and UK Screen will be actively engaged in ensuring the UK remains an attractive destination for both international and domestic TV and film production.
In the aftermath of the vote our initial objective was to reassure our member companies and their customers that the UK’s screen sector tax credits would not be adversely affected. We now believe that the tax credits are safe and will continue to provide a strong inducement for inward investment.
Our primary concern with Brexit is any curtailment of the free movement of labour or for a complex, restrictive or expensive visa system to be introduced. We are opposed to the Immigration Skills Charge as in a globally competive sector, we will always need to employ the best talent in the world regarless of where they come from. We have been lobbying the government hard on these points.
We recognise that there need to be a balance between employing foreign labour and the neccesity to build a home grown workforce and we are supporting engagement with FE and HE to boost the quality and quantity of suitable entry-level candidates.
UK Screen held a Brexit workshop for its members to identify issues that we wish to highlight in the multiple consultation processes that have sprung up. We are feeding into the BFI’s consultation, BSAC , the Creative Industries Federation, the Creative Industries Council and government departments directly.
Members can view the Brexit workshop presentation and the transcript in our Members’ Area.
The government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017 with the intention of creating 3 million new jobs by 2020.
A levy of 0.5% will be taken from annual company payrolls exceeding £3million. Each Levy-paying employer will build up a “digital account” from which they can draw down to fund accredited training from accredited suppliers. The government will “top-up” this account by 10p per pound and firms will have 24 months to spend the levy on accredited training or lose it.
Although UK Screen supports apprenticeships, we see them as just one of the many tools required to deliver a cohesive skills strategy in the creative industries and would not want to see this initiative reduce investment in other areas of the education, entry-level and career development process. Nor would we want to see unspent Levy funds leaving the creative industries, which do not currently have the culture or infrastructure to support apprenticeships.
UK Screen responded to the initial BIS consultation in 2015, recommending that Government allow the Levy to be used for development of standards and for other entry level training such as runner programmes, internships and in-house training programmes. Members can view our full response here.
Further information was revealed by the government in August 2016. This announced 90% co-funding arrangements to allow non-levy paying employers to access accredited training. There was also detail on the funding caps for the maximum amount that could be spent on an individual apprenticeship and restrictions were announced on the amount levy paying employers could transfer to other employers’ levy accounts or to Apprentice Training Agencies.
There is still no additional funding for standards creation and as there are only two accredited standards for VFX and none at all for post-production, this makes spending the levy money very difficult. We continue to seek funding for apprenticeship standards creation.
UK Screen made a further submission to the DfE consultation in 5th September 2016.
MAC - Review of Tier 2 Visas
The Government asked the Migration Advisory Committee to advise on the impact of potential changes to the Tier 2 visa route (recruiting skilled migrants from outside the EEA). The Tier 2 route is important in the VFX sector where a number of roles are on the shortage occupation list. The skills and experience brought by Tier 2 recruits can be essential to the delivery of projects and they often play a key part in training other employees on the team.
UK Screen’s submission argued against the use of blanket punitive measures to reduce Tier 2 migration, providing evidence on the likely negative impacts of such an approach and on the significant investment in skills made by VFX companies.
Members can view the consultation response here.
We were disappointed that the Home Office chose to implement an Immigration Skills Charge to begin in April 2017, which is exactly the same moment as the Apprenticeship Levy is due to start, imposing a double burden on businesses. UK Screen has been making representations about this and our position is that the Immigration Skills Charge should be dropped.
Film Tax Relief Changes - 2013
Following the Chancellor’s announcements in the 2013 Autumn Statement we did further work for HM Treasury to help them make the case for re-notification of the film tax relief. The proposed changes, based on the recommendations put forward by UK Screen and Saffery following consultation across the industry, received EU State Aid approval in March 2014 and implementation of the changes took place on 1st April 2014.
For further details of the changes see here.
High End Television Tax Relief -2014
Following the announcement in the Autumn 2013 statement regarding potential changes to the high end television tax relief, UK Screen worked with members to put a case to HM Treasury, supporting the reduction in the UK minimum spend requirement from 25% to 10%. We were delighted when these changes were announced in the pre-election Budget. This will have significant benefits for the VFX and post production sectors and has been a long-term objective for us.
Read about our activity on the Campaigns page.
UK Screen members can also view our consultation submission here.
VFX Code of Practice
In December 2013 UK Screen launched its first ever Code of Practice for VFX members, which was developed in consultation with member companies and sets out a series of commitments towards clients, employees and suppliers.
The new film and high-end TV tax credits are expected to attract more culturally-European productions to the UK, including content-makers previously unfamiliar with the world-leading infrastructure and talent available here. UK Screen published the code to help these new clients, and other audiences, understand the high level of professionalism they can expect from a UK Screen VFX company.
We are very proud that our VFX members have supported this initiative.
The Code of Practice, can be accessed here
BBC Charter review - DCMS Consultation
With the DCMS consultation on the BBC Charter addressing the size and scope of scope of the broadcaster’s output and services for the next charter period, the need for a collective voice for the facilities sector is stronger than ever before.
The most positive forecast to date indicates a minimum 10% reduction in the BBC’s funding in real terms, as a result of the recent negotiations over the over-75 licence fee liability and the potential mitigation of its impact on the BBC. This is in addition to the £700m Delivering Quality First savings programme that is still underway. If this 10% reduction resulted in a corresponding reduction in hours commissioned or, even worse, an assumption that 10% could be cut from individual programme budgets then post production companies would be hit very hard.
UK Screen responded to the consultation on behalf of its members. Our submission focussed on the facilities industry rather covering every aspect of the consultation, as we don’t want to dilute our messages and it is unlikely that any other body will address our issues.
Members can view the UK Screen submission here.
BBC Trust - Fair Trading, Charter Review and BBC Studios
The BBC Trust has been exceptionally busy, supplementing its regular consultation schedule with additional work around the new Charter and the BBC's proposal to create a new commercial subsidiary, BBC Studios Ltd. As ever, UK Screen has been feeding back on how our members, in particular the broadcast post production community, will be impacted by these changes. The BBC doesn't have a great track record in consulting with our sector, or in taking into account the potential market impacts of its actions on the wider supply chain. We want to see this change, with more consultation, more third party scrutiny, more transparency and more recognition of the value that our sector provides.
To view our consultation responses, click here.
If you've forgotten your member log-in details contact Victoria.
BBC Trust review of the BBC’s content supply arrangements
In January 2015, the BBC Trust launched a review of the BBC's arrangements for the supply of television and radio content and online services. In the light of the Director General's recent announcement regarding the interim arrangements for the BBC production units, which will eventually become a commercial company, we submitted a letter with some initial comments about the potential impacts. Separation of the BBC's public service and commercial activities is very important for our sector, so we will be monitoring this situation and responding further when more detail emerges on these plans.
Members can view the consultation document and our response in the Members' Area.
Liaison with the Digital Production Partnership
UK Screen became a trade association membership of the DPP Ltd in 2015. This has enabled us to continue participating in DPP forums and work streams and to contribute feedback gathered from our members via our own working groups and activities. This has proven to be an effective iterative feedback process in the past with UK Screen members giving valuable input to the DPP's File-based delivery standard and the adoption of loudness standard R128.
We hope to collaborate closely with DPP Ltd to ensure that everyone has the chance to have their voice heard - as this will create the best possible outputs. Review groups of UK Screen members have provided feedback on the 10 Things UHD Guide, the UHD delivery specification and the Commercials and Promos HD specification.
If you want to learn more about our work in these areas, or to get involved in our members-only Technology and Audio working group, please contact Neil Hatton
Commercial Guidance for Members – DPP File Delivery
With UK Broadcasters now requiring programmes to be delivered as files, UK Screen members needed advice about managing any additional risks and costs arising from the new ways of working. Our legal sponsor Wiggin has helped us provide some guidance, which is available in the Members Area.
UK VFX and Post directory
We worked with the BFC in the publication of the UK VFX and Post Directory. This is a handy booklet with UK post production and VFX houses full details and summary to be used to promote the UK’s industry at BFC events abroad and back in the UK at their Fam trips. The booklet provides key facts on tax relief and a summary of the UK’s success in VFX and post production. This is a great resource which will be used in gaining further inward investment to the UK in VFX and Post.
To view the booklet please click here.
Inward Investment - UK Visits
We have advised and supported both Film London and the BFC on inbound 'FAM' trips. These visits of international executives are an extremely important element of raising the UK's profile as a film and television production hub and we are happy to link our members to these activities and to assist where possible.
We have been able to welcome visitors from China who were looking to outward investment in the industry as they looked to set up partnerships within the UK post production industry. UK Screen organised several meetings with member companies were the visitors met with companies CEO’s to discuss how they could possible work together. The visitors were impressed to see such excellent facilities and work and remains in contact with several members about future possibilities.
Westminster City Council - Soho Development
We fed into consultations that Westminster City Council have been running on their City Plan. One of these was on Mixed Use and Office to Residential conversion. See here for the documentation. A group of Soho-based members met the Council’s Head of Spatial and Environmental Planning to discuss our experiences of development in Soho and whether the Council’s proposals to address the loss of commercial space are sufficient/appropriate.. Subsequently the Council’s planning and construction policies now make reference to the particular needs of Soho’s post-production industry.
We get involved in important industry issues and consultations that affect our member communities. Having a collective voice enables us to ensure that the views of our sector are taken into account when key decisions are made.
Production Accountant, CG Feature Film
Company: Locksmith Animation
Closing Date: 15 June 2018