The campaigns for tax breaks in high end drama and animation have taken one step closer to being realised, as the government today launches a public consultation.

The Treasury committed to creating incentives for both sectors as part of the Budget back in March, following extensive lobbying from industry and colleagues in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

It is hoped that the credits can be introduced from April 2013.

The consultation, which proposes a model similar to the existing film tax credits for both drama and animation, is open to submissions from individuals, companies and professional bodies. A statement from the Treasury said it was “particularly keen” to hear from content producers.

The consultation is considering all high end TV, although the monetary threshold being considered means it is unlikely to extend beyond big-budget dramas.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “High-end TV, animation and video games production are exactly the kind of innovative, high-tech industries at which this country excels, and the government is determined to support them as part of our efforts to grow this economy.”

The consultation closes on 10 September, after which the Treasury will finalise the policy design ahead of draft legislation being published later in the autumn. A separate consultation on the design of “suitable cultural tests” for each of these reliefs will be published soon.

The industry has backed the government’s plans, with Pact chief executive John McVay saying credits would have “a transformative effect” on the UK’s production industry if approved.

Drama

Left Bank Pictures’ chief executive Andy Harries said the consultation was “very welcome news”, describing incentives as “essential for the growth of our industry in the UK.”

Stephen Garrett, chairman of Kudos Film and TV, agreed. “The publication of this consultation is another important step towards a tax incentive that will lead to far more large scale British productions being made in the UK,” he said.

“The return on a relatively small investment from the government will significantly benefit the UK’s economy, generating jobs and growth, boosting tourism and giving the UK taxpayer great value for money.”

The TV Coalition, which has campaigned for tax breaks in drama, put forward research earlier this year that claimed tax breaks would generate £350m a year, with a wider impact of £1bn annually filtering into the economy.

It is hoped that an incentive would encourage big budget series such as HBO drama Game Of Thrones, which has transformed the production community in Northern Ireland, back to Britain.

HBO’s senior vice president Jay Roewe said: “These proposed changes will help make the UK one of the most attractive destinations to make quality drama in the world and we look forward to participating in the consultation process announced today.”

Co-author of the original report, Stephen Bristow, added: “The publication of the consultation document is a major step forward in putting in place a much needed new tax relief for high end TV.

“We all now need to put our heads together and ensure we feed back to the government all the information they need to put in place a new incentive that works for the benefit of programme makers.”

Animation

But it is not just drama that is set to benefit. The consultation also includes animation, which as Broadcast revealed last year, is also at the point of crisis.

Research carried out across the sector argues that incentives are the most practical way of saving the industry, retaining skills and intellectual property that are currently at risk of being lost overseas.

Animation UK chairman Oli Hyatt, who is also managing director of indie Blue-Zoo, urged interested parties to respond to the consultation. “Let’s digest what is being proposed and try and create a constructive, unified response,” he said.