The coalition government has today confirmed it will axe some, and possibly all, of the UK’s Regional Development Agencies.
As Develop explained in depth last month, cuts to RDAs will have a severe ripple-effect on game-focused groups and initiatives. Events such as Game Horizon and State of Independence, as well as funding groups such as EM Media and Game Republic, all are threatened by the drastic measures.
Today’s emergency budget saw Chancellor George Osborne initiate extraordinary spending cuts across the public sector as the Lib-Con administration wrestles with a budget deficit above £150 billion.
“The Government will enable locally-elected leaders, working with business, to lead local economic development,” read a budget statement. “As part of this change, Regional Development Agencies will be abolished through the Public Bodies Bill.”
The cuts announced today by the Treasury are threatening a number of game trade groups dotted across the UK. Those affected will have to wait for the painful details, with a white paper on the matter set for release “in the summer”.
Osborne previously said he would withdraw £270 million of the public’s money on Regional Development Agencies, suggesting some but not all would be abolished. But today’s emergency budget – which elsewhere put an end to hopes of game tax breaks – suggested that all nine of the UK’s RDAs would face the axe.
Four of Britain’s nine RDAs have deep connections with the game industry.
• Yorkshire Forward funds Screen Yorkshire, which in turn finances Game Republic – the association that funds studios and education programs in the region. Game Republic also promotes games in the region, and is also responsible for the annual State of Independence event in York.
• One North East funds Codeworks and that in turn finances Game Horizon – a leading trade event on the British game calendar.
• The East Midlands Development Agency has in the past provided funding for EM Media, which in turn is responsible for the EMMI fund that injects needed cash into local developers with, most recently, a £3.9 million war chest. EM Media says it is better protected from RDA cuts, however, as it raises funding from a variety of private sources.
• South East England Development Agency, meanwhile, is associated with the South East Media Network – which aids local developers and has Kuju’s Ian Baverstock a member of its board.
It is these four RDAs which, if hit by the drastic fund cuts, will make an immediate impact on the game industry.
[UPDATE:Game Central, the West Midlands Games Industry Network, has contacted Develop to claim that more than the four RDAs cited in this report have connections with the games industry.]
The Lib-con government has said it will in place create local enterprise partnerships – similar organisations based around England’s major cities and other natural economic areas.
Yet details on these local partnerships are thin, and the revision from regional to local allows the administration to cut everything it feels it needs to during the transition.