DCMS to abolish the UK Film Council

This is England: supported by the Film Council
This is England: supported by the Film Council

The UK Film Council has emerged as one of the first public bodies to be abolished by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt today, without any consultation.

Hunt announced a number of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's (DCMS) 55 public bodies are set to be merged, abolished or streamlined as part of the government’s drive to cut costs and increase transparency, accountability and efficiency, starting with the lead agency for film.

Up to 75 jobs are now at risk in a move that has been slammed by Tim Bevan CBE, chairman of the UK Film Council, as a "big mistake".

He said: "Abolishing the most successful film support organisation the UK has ever had is a bad decision, imposed without any consultation or evaluation.

"People will rightly look back on today’s announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency. British film, which is one of the UK's more successful growth industries, deserves better.

"Our immediate priority now is to press the government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in, especially at a time when filmmakers and film companies need more support than ever as they make the challenging transition into the digital age.

"To that end, we will work with the DCMS over the summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film."

In addition sports funding bodies UK Sport and Sport England will be merged as part of the DCMS' efforts to cut its outlays as part of the government's spending review.

UK Sport, which focuses on supporting elite athletes while Sport England covers grass roots, has commercial partners in BAE Systems and British Airways.

Tourism marketing bodies VisitEngland and VisitBritain could also be affected. In its statement the DCMS said it was considering whether to change the status, role and functions of the two organisations. A DCMS spokeswoman was unable to expand on the statement but said a final decision depended on the outcome of the spending review.

VisitEngland emerged from within VisitBritain as a consumer brand in its own right, created to market English tourism overseas, after it was handed control of its own marketing budget in late 2008.

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