Government-backed UK support body the Film Council has said that it will come in under budget at its first annual review in October after accusations that it exceeded personnel cost by more than 60%.
The Film Council, which oversees National Lottery support for film activities, declined to reveal details about how its spending breaks down or what its budget is but said that it would be under budget overall. A spokesperson said that the Council's head count of 73-plus was - "like for like" - the same as the number of employees under the old public support system, which encompassed BFI Production, British Screen Finance, the Arts Council of England's film department and the British Film Commission.
The move comes after former British Screen chief Simon Perry said this week that the Film Council's personnel expenditure had exceeded original budgets by more than 60%. Shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth questioned the Council's number of staff in Parliament earlier this year after the body was criticised for supposed profligacy in terms of the number of executives at film festivals including Cannes and Sundance.
According to the Film Council, the number of employees under the old system was 67 if general support staff such as legal and administration staff, press officers and receptionists are included. The Film Council also covers areas including training, research and statistics and policy and strategy, which do not fall in the remit of the old structure. The spokesperson added that the Council cannot reveal further details of its spending until the annual review.
"In terms of head count, we are the same as the people employed under the old system," the spokesperson said. "Like for like, it is the same."
Some Film Council staff privately feel that criticism that the body is being profligate is unfair as, they say, the level of submissions for project funding far outweighs supposedly equivalent posts under the old structure, possibly due to the Council's higher profile Aiming to avoid a hiatus in film support while the Film
Council was set up, the three fund managers for development and low and high budget production unveiled entire slates within months of taking up their newly-created posts.
"We are being reviewed by three bodies - the National Audit Office, one internal review and an external review put in my the DCMS," said the spokesperson. "We are being audited three times."