The three leading political parties have laid out their plans for the UK games industry ahead of the General Election.
Manifestos released from TIGA and ELSPA have called on the incoming Government to help tackle the skills crisis for games developers, provide financial support to studios and improve broadband connectivity.
Labour has already pledged a 90m tax break for games production, while the recently passed Digital Economy Bill sets out measures to combat piracy and has made the PEGI age ratings system law.
Furthermore, the party says it will launch a Festival of Britain to showcase British talent across the creative industries.
The Tories also promise ‘fiscal support’ for developers – however, games were absent from their election manifesto.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have backed Labour’s tax break. The Party also promises financial support for small businesses.
All three parties acknowledge the need to promote PEGI and agree that the skills crisis must be addressed as soon as possible.
The General Election takes place on Thursday, May 6th.
Tom Watson – Labour, MP for West Brom East
When you consider the cultural significance and the economic benefits of games, it is actually reprehensible for the Government of today not to recognise the games industry. It would be economically stupid not to recognise a 3bn turnover industry, with 20,000 jobs that could be 150,000 jobs.
There are still battles to be won. There are some serious educational challenges we have to contend with. To me the skills agenda is more important than the tax break announcement. If we don’t have the people, then there’s no point in the tax break.
But if I were to do a political pitch I would say the games industry has just been handed 90 million in tax relief during huge economic difficulty. It’s not the only thing we have to do, but I think that is a pretty good signal from the Labour Party of our commitment.”
Ed Vaizey – Conservative, Shadow Minister for Culture
The Conservative Party has taken the games industry seriously for years, and the rest are playing catch-up.
Over the past two years I have been raising the issue of Canada taking our talent, and Labour told me time and time again it was an issue for the World Trade Organisation. And it wasn’t until I put down a Parliamentary question did it transpire that the World Trade Organisation would do nothing.
Labour’s tax break is like 13 years of marriage, as you are showing your partner the door, he or she turns around and says: ‘I promise I will change?’ Do you believe them?
We will give the games industry a seat at the top table. We will offer fiscal support to developers and of course help with skills – I think the Government should use games to promote computer science and maths courses.”
Dom Foster – Liberal Democrat, MP for Bath
If you are in a business in the games industry – then the first thing that matters is not tax breaks or how supportive a political party is, but the economy overall. The biggest support any political party can offer is to get the economy back on track.
The second thing is tax breaks, and we are clear: we will support a games development tax break. Thirdly, many of the firms involved in the games industry are small businesses, and if you look at our manifesto you will see 900 million of extra money to offer direct support to small businesses.
The final issue is skills, and we will help make progress to deliver the sort of skills you need. There are wonderful examples of games that are being used in our schools and we need to support the development of those titles.”