Labour launches consultation on adding an ‘inclusion rider’ to high-end TV and film tax reliefs to force industry to improve on diversity

July 04, 2019

Kevin Brennan MP writes:

This year’s BAFTA Television Awards celebrated the best of British television. The nominees and winners showcased an increasingly diverse range of high-quality British TV shows.

From the compulsive viewing of Killing Eve and Bodyguard, both nominated in the Best Drama category – to the Must-See Moments, which included the first female Doctor Who meeting civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks on a segregated bus in Montgomery, British TV shows are increasingly showcasing more diverse stories in front of the camera.

In the UK we are lucky to have some of the best film and TV talent in the world. But for too long the film and TV industries have been dominated by an unrepresentative segment of society. 

Research from the Labour Shadow Culture Team reveals that of those films which passed the film tax relief’s cultural test between 2015-17, only 15.6% of the directors and co-directors were women. 

The Screen Skills Annual Assessment 2019 states that the screen industry sectors have a higher proportion of white ethnic background workers, a higher proportion of men, and a lower proportion of disabled workers that the UK economy as a whole. 

A recent report by the Sutton Trust also found that of the richest people in the TV and film industries, 44% attended an independent school compared with 7% of the country as a whole.

In a report published in 2016, the Sutton Trust found that 67% of British Oscar winners went to private school.

A Labour Government would do more to incentivise diverse representation. We believe everyone should be able to see their story reflected on screen and that a career in this thriving industry shouldn’t be out of reach for vast swathes of the community.

Since Frances McDormand’s powerful speech at the Oscars calling for actors to demand inclusion riders in their contracts, improvements in diversity have been made. Increasingly content creators are aware of the power for change they wield and are waking up to the fact that audiences are keener than ever to see stories that reflect the richness of our society.

But there is still more to do, both in front of and behind the camera. 

Showcasing diverse voices, both onscreen and off is vitally important if we are to secure a representative talent pipeline for the future. 

The Film and High-End TV Tax Relief have been instrumental in the development and success of the production industries in the UK.  To be sustainable in the longer term this tax support from Government, which amounted to more than £500m in 2016, must be supporting projects which meet equality and diversity standards.

Labour’s Shadow Culture Team has launched a consultation on updating the film and high-end TV tax relief to require inclusion and diversity as part of the qualifying criteria. 

We are inviting interested parties from across the sector to submit a response to us before the deadline on the 2nd of August. This consultation can be found at: 

https://www.tom-watson.com/consultation_on_film_and_tv_tax_relief 

We want to hear your views. 

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