George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, praised the games industry at an event that marked the launch of the long-awaited tax breaks for video games development.
The event was hosted by UKIE and the TV Coalition this morning, and featured the Chancellor as a key guest as he celebrated not just games tax breaks, but similar incentives for film, TV, animation and other creative industries.
Video games tax breaks have been a long time coming. They were first campaigned for 13 years ago by Fred Hasson and the original TIGA team, and were approved by the government two years ago. However, the European Commission chose to delay them further while it investigated whether or not the UK really needed them. Approval was finally given last week.
“It’s great to be here after a long fight by your industry and the Government to persuade the European Union to allow us to introduce this games credit,” Osborne told attendees.
“These tax credits should support one of our most dynamic and exciting new industries, with a real potential to grow in all sorts of ways. It’s going to create jobs and stimulate creativity. And it’s exciting for me that this isn’t just in London or the South East of England – it’s a very important industry in Dundee. I’ve got a big games company called Traveller’s Tales based in my constituency near Manchester. It is something that is all around the country, and an area in which I think Britain can lead the world.
“With games credits, the new enhanced film credits and the particular support for special effect that this brings, the animation credits, the TV credits and the theatrical credits that are coming in, we do now have a whole suite of measures that support your industries through the tax system.
Osborne went on to add that he welcomed any other suggestions games or any of the creative industries had that would encourage more investment in the UK, reiterating that this wave of tax breaks originated from industry campaigning.
"There’s no great repository of knowledge in the Treasury about what is required the help the creative industries in Britain fly,” he said. “We rely on your input because you are the people who know the business best. My door is always open to further ideas and thoughts about what we can do to make the tax system the most competitive in the world so that Britain is the go to place for production.”
These tax credits should support one of our most dynamic and exciting new industries, with a real potential to grow in all sorts of ways.
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
The Chancellor finished with a few words on the need for skills and talent, something that the Creative Skillset fund is already aiding the TV, film and games industries with.
“We understand it’s not just about the tax system – those are the easiest lever for me to pull,” he said. “I understand that one of the reasons we can have these credits in the UK is because of the pool of talents, skills and everything that goes into making these great products. We want to do our bit to help your industries develop those things – we’ve committed over £20m to a number of projects to support skills in the creative sector, particularly film and TV, and again we’re open to further ideas about what we can do to help.
“Ultimately, your industry is more than just the pounds and pence. You are part of the cultural life of our nation that projects Britain’s identity abroad. You’re what we all talk about, things that make up the social life of this country. Your job is to entertain, and hopefully I’ve helped you do that.”
Obsorne’s speech was followed by a special video message from Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, a long time proponent of games tax breaks and the industry.
“I believe this will be a real game-changer,” he said of the long-delayed tax relief. “I think it’s certainly going to help the industry, in the same was it helped TV, animation and film, to make a real impact in terms of people around the world who are thinking about investing. They’re going to look at the UK as a place to invest, and it’s going to help our homegrown developers as well.
“Almost as important is the psychological impact. We’ve been talking about tax breaks for the video games industry for as long as I’ve been doing this job. It shows a massive vote of confidence in the games industry.”