UK producers can use the UK tax credit which came into force earlier this year as equity in their films.

The announcement was made yesterday by the UK Film Council, FilmFour and BBC Films.

It resolves one of the principal issues that remained unresolved after the introduction of the new credit and follows months of negotiations with producers' body Pact.

In essence, the move allows producers to take a real stake in their films on which they can build their businesses.

'This is areal step change for British independent producers,' said UK Film Council chief executive John Woodward.

'For the first time,we will all start with the principle that the net value of the taxbreak (around 10-18% of the negative cost of the picture) belongs to the producer, not the film's financiers.

'We still have to make our numbers add up, but this is a big shift in attitude and approach from the old sale and leaseback days where the tax subsidy was used solely to the benefit of the financiers to reduce their investment.

'For the UK Film Council this announcement is part of an ongoing attempt to get sustainability into the UK production sector. The rationale is to ensure that a stream of the recoupment flows to the producer.'

The idea supports the government's strategy to put producers rather than financial middlemen at the centre of sustainable growth.

'I'm really delighted about this initiative,' said David Thompson, Head of BBC Films.

'We really hope it's going to do something positive to help build the sustainability of film production in this country. BBC Films is really reliant on the talent and competence of British producers. We have a great, great community of producers and for everyone's sake we really need them to flourish.'

Channel 4 Controller of Film and Drama, Tessa Ross said: 'Support for the independent production sector runs right through Channel 4's DNA. At Film4 we need our producing partners to be strong and we hope that this initiative will boost the entire sector and allow producers to move onto even bigger and better things (with us, hopefully!).'