Inward investment in film and TV production in Scotland more than doubles in two years

24 Aug 2023

Camera lens

Overall production spend in Scotland’s screen sector grew by 55% between 2019 and 2021.

A new report co-produced by the top-20 accountancy firm Saffery examining the economic and employment value of Scotland’s screen sector has found that inward investment in film and high-end TV production in Scotland increased by 110% from £165.3 million in 2019, the year prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, to £347.4 million in 2021.

The report also finds that in total an estimated £617.4 million was spent on the production of film, TV and other audio-visual content in Scotland in 2021, compared to £398.6 million in 2019, an increase of 55%.

Entitled The Economic Value of the Screen Sector in Scotland in 2021, the report was produced by the Film & Television Unit at Saffery, and the international consulting firm Nordicity. The research was commissioned by Screen Scotland, an industry body for the Scottish film and TV industry.

The report provides a follow-up to the report for 2019 published in 2022, and analyses activity in the sector in the year following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Amid the wider economic disruption caused by the pandemic, the report finds that total employment in Scotland’s production sector rose by 39% from 5,120 in 2019 to 7,150 in 2021.

Alongside film and TV development and production, the wide-ranging study analyses the economic contribution of the full screen sector value chain – which also includes animation, VFX and post-production, film and TV distribution, TV broadcast, film exhibition, as well as the supply chains that provide services at each stage of the content process, including facilities, equipment, transport, catering and accommodation.

Beyond that direct supply chain, the study looks at where the screen sector stimulates economic activity elsewhere in the Scottish economy: screen tourism, the education and training sectors and infrastructure.

In total, the screen sector in Scotland contributed Gross Value Added (GVA) of £627 million to Scotland’s economy in 2021, providing 10,930 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs, up from £573.6 million and 10,280 FTEs in 2019.

Read the full report

Stephen Bristow, Partner in the Film & Television Team at Saffery, comments:

“Against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and the considerable disruption it caused across the economy, these figures demonstrate the remarkable resilience and enduring appeal of Scotland as a destination for film & TV production, as it continued to attract record investment and interest including from some of the most prestigious names in the global media landscape. It is also testament to the extraordinary talent and enterprise within the industry and wider supply chain that bolsters Scotland as a destination capable of delivering the most high-end and ambitious film and TV projects.

“The Scottish film and TV industry is a real success story that generates considerable value for the wider economy. One of the factors helping to attract this record inward investment continues to be the UK’s creative sector tax reliefs which represent a significant commitment to the sector by government and one which many productions take advantage of. With the government planning to reform and modernise the creative sector tax reliefs, replacing them with new expenditure credit regimes, companies in the film & TV sector should consider early how any changes might affect them and seek professional advice if necessary to ensure a smooth transition to the new regime.”

Isabel Davis, Screen Scotland’s Executive Director, commented:

“The growth in all forms of production in Scotland between 2019 and 2021 is a phenomenal result.  It shows us that public investment via Screen Scotland in infrastructure, development, production and skills development, combined attractive levels of production incentive are the catalyst for a successful industry. 

“Now is the time to build on these newly created jobs and growth with a sustained funding commitment towards skills development, attraction of large-scale productions and a focus on the development of locally originated film and television. Screen Scotland is committed to delivering further growth, working hand in hand with the commercial production and studio sectors.  This will rely upon on increased levels of funding in order for Scotland to seize the opportunities ahead of it and see that growth trajectory continue.”

The headline findings from the report include:

  • Inward investment film and HETV production spend increased by 110%, from £165.3 million in 2019 to £347.4 million in 2021.
  • In total, an estimated £617.4 million was spent on the production of film, TV and other audio-visual content in Scotland in 2021, compared to £398.6 million in 2019, up 55% compared to 2019.
  • Employment (full time equivalent jobs) in Scotland’s production sector rose from 5,120 in 2019 to 7,150 in 2021, a 39% increase.
  • Employment across the sector increased at a lower rate, by 5.6%, from 10,280 FTEs in 2019 to 10,860 FTEs in 2021 – with the covid impacts in that year on employment in the cinema exhibition and screen tourism accounting for the difference.
  • In total, the screen sector in Scotland contributed GVA of £627million to Scotland’s economy in 2021.

Contact Us

Stephen Bristow
Partner, London

Key experience

Stephen is a Partner in the Film and Television Unit at media accountants Saffery. He specialises in providing strategic policy...