Diversity Tax Breaks
A group of high profile film and television industry figures — including Sir Lenny Henry and Adrian Lester OBE — have delivered a letter to No. 10 Downing Street, calling for tax breaks to increase the representation of women, BAME and disabled people working behind the camera. As Chair of Directors UK I am pleased to have signed this letter and Directors UK offer it our full support.
Tax breaks would focus minds on real diversity in film and TV - this is one of several practical measures that could at last make us a representative industry.
Here is the letter in full;
We call for the immediate introduction of a film and television “representation tax relief” to increase the employment of women, disabled people and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds behind the camera in the British film and television industries.
True representation of the diversity of the UK isn’t just about what we see on our screens but also the people writing, directing, filming and working behind the camera.
Over the years some of the most important British films and television have been written and directed by Britain’s talented female, BAME and disabled creatives including the award-winning Amma Asante, Sally Wainwright, Gurinder Chadha, Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen, Sharon Horgan and Michaela Coel.
They enrich the creativity of the UK and add to our cultural heritage, but unfortunately they continue to be the exception rather than the rule.
We believe the implementation of a representation tax relief is necessary because diversity in important sections of the UK film and television industry is in crisis:
A report by Directors UK revealed only 2.31% of UK television is made by directors of BAME background.
According to the British Film Institute, only 3% of the UK film industry’s production and post-production workforce are from a BAME background.
Over the last decade women made up only 13.6% of working film directors in the UK, despite making up the majority of film students.
Only 0.3% of the total UK film workforce and 4.5% of the television workforce are disabled, well short of the 18% in the population who consider themselves disabled.
These numbers are shocking.
Tax relief is a tried and tested mechanism to increase employment and activity in the UK film industry.
We believe a representation tax relief would encourage investment in diverse film and television productions, boost the growth of UK film and television productions directed, written and filmed by disabled people, women and BAME background people. It would also increase the level of diversity in the industry workforce.
A report by the BFI showed that spend on film production in the UK reached the highest level on record in 2017 with £1.9bn, a 12% increase on the previous year and total UK expenditure on high-end television in 2017 was £938m, an increase from £861m in 2016.
Employment in film and video production has also grown year on year, according to the BFI, at a considerably faster rate than the rest of the economy, and a large part of this success and growth has been attributed to the government’s film and TV tax credits schemes.
Importantly, in recent years, the UK film and TV tax relief scheme has been adapted to focus on areas such as children’s animation. Kay Benbow, then head of BBC CBeebies channel said tax relief “tipped the balance” for productions that otherwise would not have been commissioned.
We believe boosting diversity in UK film and TV should benefit from the same incentives.
A representation tax relief would give UK film and television productions tax relief if they meet three of the four following criteria:
The director is a woman and/or disabled and/or from a BAME background.
The writer is a woman and/or disabled and/or from a BAME background.
The director of photography is a woman and/or disabled and/or from a BAME background.
50% of staff spend behind the camera is on female staff, or 14% on BAME staff, or 18% on disabled staff.
Complaints over the lack of diversity in the creative industries have seen things slowly begin to change, but the time has come for more substantive measures, and real change needs to be underwritten by law. The measures we are calling for are long overdue and will ensure the UK has the most diverse and vibrant film and television industries in the world.
Andrew Chowns CEO, Directors UK
David & Carrie Grant
Dr Paulette Randall
Steve Smith Chair, Directors UK
Act For Change
Black Members Sub-Committee BECTU
The Indie Club
The TV Collective
Women in Film & TV UK