Osborne's 'Downton charter': tax breaks for big-budget TV dramas

Chancellor plans to offer boost to economy – and appeal to fans of high-end productions

Tax relief to ensure that more big-budget television programmes such as Downton Abbey are made in Britain will be announced in the Budget next week.

George Osborne will extend to "top-end" TV productions a tax regime similar to that enjoyed by the UK film industry which, in the 2009-10 financial year, secured almost £100m from special tax allowances. They helped to secure £1bn of investment in more than 200 films, which contributed £4.2bn a year to the economy.

Britain's "cinematic TV" industry, which includes more than 1,500 production companies and is worth over £2bn, is second only to the United States as an exporter. But the Chancellor is worried that the TV blockbusters are increasingly being made in countries with more favourable tax systems.

Unlike Downton Abbey, the vast majority of TV dramas with budgets of over £1m an hour are being made abroad. Titanic, written by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes, was produced in Canada and Hungary, and Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Parade's End was filmed mainly in Belgium.

America has also seen a substantial amount of television production head overseas.The proportion of shows on HBO, the US network which has been home to hits such as The Wire and The Sopranos, which are produced in countries offering tax relief, has risen from 10 to 85 per cent.

A Treasury source said: "One of the ways the world sees Britain at its best is through world-class films and TV made in Britain. They not only help us showcase the country but are also an important part of a dynamic and diversified economy. Tax relief for British films has been critical in ensuring that the industry continues to thrive."

Lord Fellowes, who was made a Conservative peer in 2010, said: "British TV is second to none, but unfortunately, great British programmes are being made overseas where the tax climate is more favourable. If the Budget can address this, it would be a fantastic move forward for our industry."

Mr Osborne joined two Downton Abbey stars, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern, at the lavish state dinner for David Cameron at the White House on Wednesday.

Althoughthe Chancellor will have little spare money for giveaways in next Wednesday's Budget, he wants to use it to boost Britain's creative industries as part of his drive for economic growth. Officials estimate the British film industry would be 75 per cent smaller without the tax relief it enjoys. This is aimed directly at film production companies for the expenses they incur on the production of a film intended for release in commercial cinemas. It must be certified as British, either by passing a cultural test or under an agreed co-production treaty, and must incur at least 25 per cent of total production cost in the UK. Limited-budget films (£20m or less) are eligible for a 25 per cent rate of relief on production costs, while films with a bigger budget are eligible for 20 per cent relief, up to a maximum of 80 per cent of the film's budget.

Suggested Topics
News
Jennifer Lawrence was among the stars allegedly hacked
peopleActress and 100 others on 'master list' after massive hack
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

IT Support Analyst (2nd Line Support) - City, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare: Ashdown Group: IT Support Ana...

KS1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: KS1 Teaching Specialist Leic...

Y3 Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Key Stage 2 specia...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor