Tax breaks would focus minds on real diversity in film and TV
We call for the 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. 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 postproduction workforce are BAME.
• 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.
A representation tax relief would give UK film and TV productions tax relief if they meet three of the four following criteria: (1) The director is a woman and/or disabled and/or BAME. (2) The writer is a woman and/ or disabled and/or BAME. (3) The director of photography is a woman and/or disabled and/or BAME. (4) 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 TV industries in the world. Lenny Henry, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Adrian Lester, Jodie Whittaker,
Jim Broadbent, Sharon Horgan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, David Oyelowo, Floella Benjamin, Neil Gaiman, Harry Hill, Meera Syal, Doreen Lawrence, Mica Paris, Lucy Prebble, Ade Adepitan and 63 others (see gu.com/letters)