Warner Bros and Sony have both been working behind the scenes to get the UK government to introduce a £39 million ($63 million) annual tax break for the gaming industry. Chancellor George Osborne is considering introducing a computer games tax break in his next Budget on March 23. This would mark a U-turn for Osborne who last summer scrapped planned tax relief for the sector after the Conservatives took power. This time around he wants some good news in his Budget after months of the government just offering cuts and layoffs in the state sector. The hope is that a computer games tax break will encourage U.S. companies to come here just as the film tax break keeps Pinewood Shepperton busy with Hollywood blockbusters.
Batman: Arkham Asylum and Lego Harry Potter were both developed out of the UK by Warner Bros. Games sector lobbyist TIGA tells me that the UK computer games industry has shrunk by 9% over the past year, employing 900 fewer people. By contrast, the Canadian games sector – which does enjoy government help – has grown by 33% over the same period. Games developers are pushing for three levels of tax credit, ranging from 20-30% depending on how much a game costs to develop. Given that the average cost of developing a UK computer game is £570,000, most games would qualify for a 30% tax break. Black Ops, the smash hit US shoot ‘em up, cost around … Read More »
The culture department, which funds British film to the tune of £26 million each year, is preparing for savage cuts. The Department For Culture, Media and Sport faces having its budget slashed by 25% – or even higher – over the next four years. Earlier this month, UKFC told me it was drawing up plans for what 20% cuts in grant-in-aid expenditure might look like over three years. Now that looks optimistic.
Final government department budgets will be set in the October 20 spending review.
Chancellor George Osborne said department spending will be cut by £17 billion more than expected by 2014-14 because, he said, “the structural deficit is worse than we were told”. It’s the classic skeletons-in-the-cupboard tactic used when one politician takes over another’s job.
And the video games industry has lost the tax break it was promised by the previous Labour government — which the Conservatives originally supported.
It’s all part of the kill-or-cure Budget unveiled by the Conservatives, determined to get the UK’s debt-load down before Britain implodes like Greece or Iceland.
Trade body Tiga estimated that the video game tax relief would create, or at least keep, 3,500 college-level jobs here in Britain. Staffing levels among French games developers have increased by 20% since France introduced a 20% tax break a couple of years ago.
The BBC has also lost out. Chancellor George Osborne confirmed that a tax on landline phones, proposed by … Read More »