Aardman warns jobs could go abroad as it renews plea for tax breaks

February 2, 2012

From Bristol 24-7 www.bristol247.com

Bristol’s most famous animation studio Aardman has ramped up its warning that it is considering moving jobs overseas unless the Government introduces tax breaks for its industry.

The Oscar-winning company behind Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep is set to begin production on its new series kids’ series called Ploo next month.

Aardman employs 250 people in Bristol but says that just a handful of the 40 new jobs created for the £3m project are expected to be at its Harbourside headquarters.

Instead it has again threatened that it may move production to Germany where it can take advantage of lucrative tax concessions.

Head of broadcast Miles Bullough has previously lobbied the Government to bring in tax credits for the industry to rival similar policies in Ireland, Canada, France as well as Germany.

In an interview with the New Statesman he said: “Clearly our politicians can’t wave a magic wand and make everyone else’s tax credits go away.

“But we have asked for a credit of 15% to 20% on corporation tax to be introduced, along similar lines to the film tax credit. Then we can catch up with the competition in one leap.”

The firm, launched 40 years ago, picked up three Oscars in the 1990s and has become a household name with work spanning the traditional claymation of Wallace & Gromit, Creature Comforts and Morph to full-length CGI movies such as Arthur Christmas – its first with Sony Pictures and a Christmas box office hit.

Merchandising of its characters also forms a major part of its income.

Ploo, which is aimed at the pre-school market, has already attracted interest from big broadcasters with Mr Bullough claiming a dozen companies are ready to buy it.

Aardman has been lobbying since last year for a UK film tax credit — worth 15%-20% of the cost of production — to be extended to children’s animation.

Mr Bullough told Deadline magazine in November: “For us to consider moving overseas is wrong, but unless we get a level playing field we will have to consider going.

“Prime Minister David Cameron and arts minister Ed Vaizey both came to visit and gave us a sympathetic hearing, but you never know with politicians.”

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