US strikes and increased costs spell trouble for new UK studios

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The current actors’ strike couldn’t come at a worse time for some British studios who are grappling with spiking costs. 

We reported back in May that alarm was growing in the UK screen industry as the impact of the ongoing writers’ strike was felt here in the UK. Unlike many of our European neighbours, our film industry isn’t self-sustaining and relies almost wholly on inward investment, much of it from America. Overnight, much of that work will cease as the US actors’ strike causes productions using US actors to shut down.

For newer studios in England and Wales, facing a sudden loss of business couldn’t come at a worse time as they are facing significant hikes in their business rates of 200-300%, according to Screen DailyThe sizeable increase in business rates is determined by the UK’s Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and as we well know, whilst it might not be self-sufficient, the UK screen industry is very, very profitable.

For established studios, the problem is less of an issue because rate increases will be phased in over three years but new studios will have to pay the full rate hike from the outset. With US studios suddenly much more hesitant to book studio space, this could create a major problem although we imagine that the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport will be sensitive to this and will want to protect the industry’s ongoing growth.

Still though, the situation is already having tangible effects upon the UK industry. Last week amid the uncertainty regarding strikes and rising costs, construction was paused on a new £600m studio in Hertfordshire. With far less demand coming in, someone is going to be taking a huge financial hit whether it be the UK industry or the government, we don’t yet know but it will likely be a combination of the two. We’ll have to wait and see but we’ll bring you updates on this story as we hear more.

Image: BigStock

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