Report – What a Relief!

Posted on: Wednesday 04 July 2018 6:02pm by Simon Bor

An overview of the successful creative industries tax reliefs and how to apply for them.


  • Tax relief for animation and children’s TV was worth £15.3 million in 2016/17.
  • The UK tax relief system is one of the most efficient in the world.
  • Go to the BFI for advice at an early stage.


Kate O’Connor of Animation UK hosted this session.

Andy Wright of the BFI gave an outline of how to apply for credits and the cultural tests needed for both British productions and co-productions with treaty countries. It is worth 25% of UK core expenditure on Children’s TV or animation based on a maximum of 80% of total core expenditure. On a British-only production with a £1m budget, it would be worth 25% of £800,000. Andy said it is important to go to the BFI for advice at an early stage.

Stephanie Martinez from HMRC said that claiming the relief is simple. It is part of the annual return, but it is important to tick the correct boxes as it is the creative relief team in Manchester who pay back the money. She went on to say that £700m of tax relief was paid out to the creative industries in 2016/17; £10m of this to animation projects and £5.3m to Children’s TV.

Billy Mcqueen of Darrell Macqueen said he had used the system for four productions to date, the trickiest being a co-production. The first project, Topsy and Tim 3, had been dead in the water before the advent of tax credits. He had seen licence fees and overseas revenues for animation slump and pointed out that only one in every 200 animation shows work in merchandising. He also said there was a limit to how many times a company could defer production fees.

Sarah Fell of Turner Broadcasting told us that Gumball has used tax credits since Series 3. She said that the BFI had been keen to help them navigate through the cultural tests. Although the series is plainly not set in the UK, they were able to get points for EEA creators and diversity.

Maggie Laing of The Media Partners said that there was increased interest in China for co-production following the UK-China treaty, but it was important for Chinese companies to understand that the tax relief is not free money.

Questions included the cost of money for the time between spending on the shows and receiving the money from HMRC. Billy thought it was one of the most efficient systems in the world and payment was twice as fast as Canada. Stephanie and Alan both stated that Brexit would make little or no difference to the scheme and that the UK would still be following state aid rules.

You can find full details from BFI at

CMC 2018 Blog Event Reports BFI tax credits

Simon Bor

About the author

Simon Bor


Simon studied Animation at Farnham, and, more recently, was awarded an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University. He set up Honeycomb Animation with Sara Bor and has been involved in children’s television since the mid 1980s. As a writer, Simon has co-written and created several shows including Milkshake’s 'Funky Valley'. As a director and… Read more