Ed Vaizey, the Conservative MP who has in recent months pledged to support the game industry, has been appointed as Culture Minister.
Vaizey has said on numerous occasions that if ever appointed a government post he would “shout about the game industry from the rooftops”.
Trade association ELSPA says it welcomes the appointment of Vaizey, stating that the Wantage MP “is one of the few politicians to have shown a comprehensive understanding of the video games industry and the challenges we face”.
ELSPA had previously called on the Tory party to pledge detailed support for game tax breaks before electionpolling day, stating it was an issue of gereat importance.
Vaizey’s appointment was announced as the final posts of the Lib-Con coalition were filled.
He will work for the new Culture Secretary Jeremy hunt in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and it is understood that Vaizey’s post will focus his attentions to the arts.
What this means for the pressing issue of game development tax breaks is uncertain. Develop has been told that, understandably, the subject has not been deeply discussed yet as the new administration has only begun to establish itself.
Vaizey has previously promised that the Conservatives are unequivocally behind game development tax breaks, despite doubts raised by Develop and various industry execs.
He said that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, had personally backed his pledge to breathe new life into the UK game industry with tax relief.
The introduction of The Liberal Democrats in the coalition is not thought would affect this. Game industry cheerleading MP Don Foster assured that the Liberal Democrats fully support game tax reflief.
Foster also told Develop that Vince Cable, the Lib Dems’ newly appointed Business Secretary, was in support for tax breaks.
Yet what could be the spanner that falls into the works is the coalition’s joint decision to make sweeping cuts across the country to remedy the £163 billion fiscal deficit.
Labour and the Lib Dems opposed the Conservatives’ plans to make £6 billion cuts this financial year during the election campaign.
Culture Secretary Hunt has already indicated that the DCMS will not be immune to the budgetary savings being sought by the new government. Various news reports suggest the department is looking to contribute around £60 million in the new administration’s cost-cutting operation.
But Vaizey’s appointment may safeguard the industry from any cuts, and the promise of tax breaks may still be on the table.
ELSPA director general Michael Rawlinson welcomed Vaizey’s appointment.
“Over the last two years Ed Vaizey has proven himself to be one of the few politicians with a true grasp as to the importance of the video games industry and its cultural impact,” he said.
“Due to several meetings held with the new Minister in the run up to the election Ed is well aware of the issues we face. We therefore welcome the opportunity of working with him and his team in addressing these issues and in turn supporting both the video games industry and UK plc.’
Vaizey, MP for Wantage and Didcot since 2005, worked with Hunt as the Shadow Culture and Creative Industries Minister from 2006-2010.