Creative industries get budget boost including £26m for National Theatre | Budget 2024 (spring)

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The chancellor has given Britain’s creative industries a boost, including £26.4m to help the National Theatre upgrade its stages and tax relief to encourage film-makers to shoot more movies in the UK.

The government’s investment in the National Theatre is designed to support urgent infrastructure upgrades at its landmark building on London’s South Bank and will be used to support repairs to its Olivier theatre scenery lift and other failing systems.

Jeremy Hunt also announced plans to help the growing UK film industry, with studio space having doubled in the last three years. “At the current rate of expansion, we will be second only to Hollywood globally by the end of 2025,” he said.

Under Wednesday’s budget measures, eligible film studios in England will be able to get 40% relief on their gross business rates until 2034 in a tax cut worth about £470m over the next 10 years.

Independent film-makers will be helped by a new tax credit scheme at a rate of 53% for films with budgets under £15m, provided they meet certain criteria. There will be further tax relief for visual effects costs in film and high-end TV.

Hunt also said he would make the tax breaks introduced to help the performing arts during the pandemic permanent, with relief levels of 45% for touring and orchestral productions and 40% for non-touring productions.

“Lord Lloyd Webber says this will be a once in a generation transformational change that will ensure Britain remains the global capital of creativity,” the chancellor told MPs.

Ben Roberts, the chief executive of the British Film Institute (BFI), which shapes film strategy and policy in the UK, called it the “most significant policy intervention since the 1990s”.

Adrian Wootton, the chief executive of the British Film Commission, the organisation responsible for international film and television production in the UK, said it would “significantly boost the UK’s world-class film and TV industry in the face of growing international competition”.

Dana Strong, the chief executive of Sky Group, said she was delighted the government was “providing vital tax relief to enable the UK’s world-class film and TV production sector to continue to thrive”.

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“Today’s announcement brings confidence to the sector, unlocking job opportunities whilst providing a stable foundation for the investments of tomorrow in the UK, such as our proposal for Sky Studios Elstree North and the filming of NBCUniversal’s Jurassic 4,” she said.

Pact, the UK screen sector trade body representing independent production and distribution companies, and the BFI said they believed the uplift in the film tax credit would lead to more producers choosing to film in the UK, sustaining jobs and creating new opportunities.

“The sector has reached a critical point and this intervention will provide a lifeline to indie film producers by allowing them to access funding which will attract key creative talent and in turn give them the ability to recoup their initial investment,” said John McVay, the chief executive of Pact.

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