The DCMS confirmed that it plans to close down the funding body, established by the Labour government in 2000 to support the British film industry, and establish "a direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute". Lottery support for UK cinema will reportedly continue.
UKFC charmain Tim Bevan voiced his objection to the move in a statement, saying: “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.”
The UKFC, which is staffed by 70 people, has already been cutting its budgets by more than 25% to deal with the current financial climate.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said that today's decision is part of a wider cost-cutting drive to streamline 55 public bodies.
“The government is committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of its public bodies, while at the same time reducing their number and cost," Hunt said.
"Many of these bodies were set up a considerable length of time ago, and times and demands have changed. In the light of the current financial situation, and as part of our drive to increase openness and efficiency across Whitehall, it is the right time to look again at the role, size and scope of these organisations.
“The changes I have proposed today would help us deliver fantastic culture, media and sport, while ensuring value for money for the public and transparency about where taxpayers’ money is spent.”