Government defends UK Film Council closure

The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has defended his decision to close down the UK Film Council.

Responding to appeals from industry figures – such as the actors Emily Blunt and James McAvoy, and the Oscar-winning director and actor Clint Eastwood – to keep the body in place, Mr Hunt insisted that stopping money being spent on a film quango was not the same as stopping money being spent on film.

Writing in the Observer, he stressed that the existing levels of funding would be maintained and added that the film tax credits would remain in place.

He also criticised the fact that of the UK Film Council’s seventy five staff members, eight of the top executives received salaries in excess of £100,000.

The closure of the quango, he insisted, would – in fact – free up more money for production, not less.

But his explanation leaves questions over how funds will be distributed to film-makers in the future, although the BFI is likely to take over many of the Film Council’s functions.

The producer Kevin Loader said that many films, such as last year’s In The Loop, could not have been made without the support of the UK Film Council. But he acknowledged that preserving the film tax credit and the overall level of government funding were more important to the industry than the survival of the Film Council itself.