Tax breaks in Northern Ireland for film and television production could create thousands of jobs as well as bring significant inward investment to the region, according to financial advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers.
PwC says that Northern Ireland should argue for new tax breaks to encourage more investment in the local creative industries sector.
The advisors pointed to the success of Titanic Studios in attracting HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’ to the North, saying that the production contributes around £20m per series to the Northern Ireland economy.
In addition, they say, last year’s Universal Films feature ‘Your Highness’, also shot in Titanic Studios, brought in a further £11m to Northern Ireland.
The North already offers productions the UK’s long-standing tax incentive for film production. Although currently no such tax incentive is offered to TV productions produced in the UK that is expected to change in next April’s British budget.
However, PwC tax partner Martin Fleetwood said targeting tax incentives to a local industry success story will make Northern Ireland even more attractive to TV, animation and games production and help compete with the Republic’s Section 481 tax break.
Fleetwood said: “The Irish Film Board’s Section 481 tax break offers a tax incentive of up to 28 per cent of the cost of television, film and animation production in RoI, with a ceiling of €50m.
“That has helped create a sector valued at over half a billion euro, which attracted production spending in Ireland of more than €225m alone, in 2010.
“If we are looking at ways to diversify and rebalance the economy, film, television and animation production offers Northern Ireland a means to increase its share of an industry already worth £4.5bn a year to the UK.
“Recent research suggests that tax relief for the UK industry could generate £13 for every £1 invested and extending tax reliefs could see Northern Ireland’s already established screen and creative sector become a massive wealth creator.”
Fleetwood was speaking following the publication of a British treasury consultation paper on the British government’s announcement that it intends to introduce corporation tax reliefs for the animation, high end television and video games industries.
Northern Ireland Screen has successfully marketed the region to production companies, with the support of the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Industry through Invest Northern Ireland.
A report commissioned in 2010 into the economic contribution of the UK Film Industry concluded that the sector directly employed 36,000 people and has been relatively immune from the impact of the downturn.