Government 'damaging the foundations' of creative industries

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The Independent Tech

Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis has hit out at the Coalition government saying its policies are damaging Britain's creative industries.

The Labour MP launched the party's Creative Industries Network in London last night, primarily blaming the Conservatives for reducing the global impact of arts and education in the UK.

Lewis also confirmed the appointment of financial investor Patrick McKenna as an advisor. The former chief executive of the Really Useful Group and founder of Ingenious will report on the changes needed to grow the creative industries.

Lewis said at the launch: “Our challenge is to match our cutting edge creative ideas with an equally creative global business strategy which ensures we can benefit from the new jobs and growth of the future.

"The Conservative-led government has so far failed to provide the strategic leadership which is urgently required, and in education and the arts, they are implementing policies which are damaging the foundations of our creative success.”

The move was immediately welcomed by TIGA, an organisation which represents the videogame industry.

Its CEO Dr Richard Wilson took the opportunity to make a fresh call for tax relief for the gaming industry saying TIGA would feed its research into the Labour Party’s Creative Industries Policy Review on the future of Britain’s creative industries.

"The UK video games development sector is still the largest in Europe and the global market for video games is growing," Wilson said in a statement. "However, while other governments in countries including Canada and the USA support their video games industries with sector specific tax breaks, the UK does not. As a result, employment in the UK games development sector shrunk by nine per cent between 2008 and 2010."

The creative industries in the UK account for more than seven per cent of GDP compared to a European average of two per cent.

The UK video games development sector is the largest in Europe and the global market for video games is growing.

But tax breaks in countries such as Canada and some American states has, TIGA claims, contributed to a fall in employment in the UK games development sector of nine per cent between 2008 and 2010.

Part of McKenna's role will be to assess how organisations can best develop business skills and attract private investment.

The Creative Industries Network will be chaired by Andrew McGuinness, chairman of the Advertising Association, and it will include arts organisations, businesses and trade unions.

Lewis said the network aimed to assist young people from low and middle income backgrounds gain a foothold in the creative industries.

In March 2010, then chancellor Alistair Darling announced plans for games tax relief in the final budget before the general election. It was cancelled, however, by Chancellor George Osborne who said the original plans had been “poorly targeted”.