The UK government has announced details of a new "cultural test" to decide eligibility for its new film tax credit.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has set out three qualifying categories:

* Cultural hubs - where production or filming is UK-based
* Cultural practitioners - where the cast, crew or producers come from the European Economic Area
* Cultural content - where the film is set in the UK or features British characters.

Films will have to score at least 50% of available total points - 16 out of 32 - to qualify as British.

Creative Industries Minister James Purnell said, "One thing the cultural test is not, is an attempt to dictate the content or subject matter of British films. Mrs Henderson Presents or Pride and Prejudice could qualify, but so too could Batman Begins - based in Gotham City, but filmed in the UK, employing Brits and using British facilities."

The test had been open for industry comment during a 12-week consultation period, and several revisions have been made to the test that had been proposed in July.

A points category has been added for film producers; there has been an overall reduction in the weighting of "cultural content" (now worth 4 points) and an increase in the weighting in "cultural hubs" (now worth 15 points); the points available for UK shooting whether on location or at a studio has increased while points for the film's setting has reduced

There are also now increased points available to visual effects and music recording and the rules break out separate points categories for audio post-production and film lab work, and share points between principal cast and crew and overall cast and crew.

The DCMS said it would create alternate points systems for documentaries and animation, to be developed with experts from each field.

Films are expected to be pre-certified under the new test, although the DCMS noted that it hasn't yet drafted guidelines to the new points system - the department said it hoped those guidelines would be "published as soon as possible."

DCMS also said that at this early stage it couldn't predict how long it would take for any individual film to be submitted and cleared under the new test.

One government source suggested to that having a firm cultural test was one reason that the Treasury was able to offer tax breaks that are slightly higher than expected - because a more rigid eligibility test would prevent the rule bending and leakage that was found in previous tax schemes.

The UK Film Council and DCMS both acknowledged that the guidelines for co-productions under the cultural test still had to be developed further.

"The first thing to bear in mind is that co-productions will qualify for tax relief," Woodward said.

"There had been some question about whether they would, and the answer is they do."

Woodward said that work could now continue on several official co-production treaties that had stalled while the tax debate was ongoing.

"It's been difficult to move forward the co-production discussions until the tax question was settled," he said.

"Now there is more work to be done on co-productions."

Some producers had hoped that the Treasury would decide to extend Section 48 for another six months (it won't cover shoots starting past the end of March 2006), so there is some worry that there will be transitional issues as the new tax reform is put into place.

Pact said said that it had "always stressed the need of film producers for certainty and hopes that the legislation enabling the new tax relief will be brought forward as soon as possible to ensure there is no gap in the relief during 2006."

Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London, added, "We welcome the clarity of the new transitional arrangements and cultural test which we are confident will simplify the implementation of the tax relief."