CALL FOR TAX HELP; Dr Richard Wilson, of Video Games Trade Body TIGA, Says the Industr Y Needs Tax Breaks FOCUS... on Video Games

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), January 26, 2011 | Go to article overview

CALL FOR TAX HELP; Dr Richard Wilson, of Video Games Trade Body TIGA, Says the Industr Y Needs Tax Breaks FOCUS... on Video Games


Byline: Richard Wilson

WHILE the German economy has pulled itself out of recession through an export led recovery, the UK's recovery is more uncertain and unsteady.

Despite a 25% devaluation of sterling since 2008, the UK continues to run a trade deficit.

We are struggling in the battle for inward investment: the UK has slipped from second to fifth place in the world for inward investment flows. Unemployment has risen to 2.5m, and this is before the Coalition's main austerity measures begin to bite.

Of course we need to get our deficit under control - but we also need a serious strategy for growth. In particular, we need to back industries with growth potential where the UK has a competitive advantage. Video games development is one such sector.

Games development contributes approximately pounds 1bn to UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs 9,000 highly skilled development staff.

The sector is export oriented: 95% of UK video games are exported. The industry is R&D intensive: two-fifths of studios have a budget earmarked for R&D purposes. Game development is also low carbon in output.

Crucially, the video game sector offers opportunities for growth and high value, high technology job creation for Liverpool.

Estimates from PWC suggest that the global market for video games will grow from $52.5bn in 2009 to $86.8bn in 2014.

Liverpool should be in a strong position to win a share of this growing market. According to Experian statistics 12,866 people are employed in the North West gaming and animation industries.

There are already 35 games businesses in the North West, including Liverpool based Citrus Suite, Playbox and Sony.

Liverpool has previously been responsible for extremely successful chart-topping console games such as Project Gotham Racing Series and The Club. The city should be well placed to continue this tradition of creating top-selling games.

Yet the Liverpool video games industry will not fulfil its potential and the UK will not win a significant share of the growing global video games market if the coalition Government continues to neglect this dynamic sector.

Our key competitors, including Australia, Canada, France, South Korea, Singapore and the US all provide national or regional tax breaks for games production or other significant financial incentives. The UK does not.

As a result, investment and employment in the UK development sector is shrinking. Over the last two years the UK video games development sector has suffered from a 9% fall in employment and annual investment has fallen from pounds 458m to pounds 417m.

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry, has campaigned for the introduction of a Video Games Tax Relief to enable the industry to compete on a level playing field. Labour introduced the tax break in the March 2010 Budget but then the coalition Government rejected the measure in the June 2010 Budget. …

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