The Conservative Party says it will introduce game development tax breaks in its first budget if elected to form a Government, Develop can reveal.
The party’s spokesperson for the game industry, MP Ed Vaizey, last night put an end to months of faltering support on the issue by pledging, unequivocally, that the Conservatives would back the measures straight away.
Vaizey told Develop that the Conservatives would introduce game development tax breaks in its first term, speaking in an interview after his appearance on last night’s ELSPA Pre Election Question Time debate.
For many months the Conservatives’ position on development tax breaks has appeared unconvincing, with the party only suggesting that it was not opposed in principal to the fiscal measures that the UK development sector craves.
However, in the aftermath of Chancellor Alistair Darling’s 2010 Budget – where game tax breaks became Government policy – the Tories’ hand has been somewhat forced.
At the inaugural ELSPA Question Time event in London last night, the issue tax cuts was put to Vaizey several times. Yet the Conservative MP’s slippery handling of questions had failed to convince all in attendance that the Tories were fully behind tax break measures.
Vaizey did say in general terms that the Conservatives “are going to support tax breaks for the videogame industry”, but the pledge was short on detail.
Further doubts were raised when Vaizey failed to back the Government’s own tax break policy, which will be based on the cultural film tax test and introduced after the election.
Sitting next to Viazey at the ELSPA Question Time event was Labour MP Tom Watson, who accused his counterpart of indecision – or dithering – on the issue.
Said Watson: “Vaizey’s a great man, but basically he doesn’t make the calls. George Osbourne does. And [Osbourne] hasn’t made his mind up on the issue,”
Vaizey hit back unreservedly, unearthing the embarrassing moves Labour has made during its thirteen year administration that’s resulted in a diminished UK sector.
“I think that Labour’s game tax credit – or as the Conservatives call it; fiscal support for the videogame industry – is a bit like thirteen years of marriage, with your partner being shown the door and he or she turns around and says ‘I can change’.
“Do you believe them? Or do you believe that person who has been wooing you for the last three years,” he added, “talking about how seriously they are taking the issue, and want to give you the proper tax breaks, the proper skills, and a voice to the top of the table.”
Vaizey went on to tell Develop that the party would introduce game development tax breaks “in the Conservatives’ first budget”.
He said: “We do support tax breaks for the industry, but it’s not something you can do overnight. The Labour government opposed game development tax breaks on Tuesday and put in their budget on Wednesday.”
Elsewhere during the Question Time event, The Liberal Democrats pledged its full support for game development tax breaks.