Tom Watson MP criticises coalition tax u-turn on videogames

A Labour MP has accused the Coalition of putting jobs at risk in the videogame sector following its decision earlier this year to cancel proposed tax relief for the industry.

Tom Watson called it “a reprehensible decision based on ignorance” and he went on to say that it would cost jobs and potentially break the industry.

The backbencher made the comments following a meeting of leading game publishers at Westminster organised by the gaming trade body, TIGA.

He said: “When you see a nine per cent downturn in jobs in the UK videogame sector and in the same period of time a 33 per cent growth in jobs in the Canadian sector, something is institutionally wrong with the relationship between government and the industry in allowing that to happen.”

The games industry contributes £1bn annually to UK GDP and some of the biggest titles in videogaming were created in Britain including Tomb Raider and Grand Theft Auto.

But the industry has faced financial problems and it was starkly felt at Realtime Worlds in Dundee which closed in September. US-based Activision is currently deciding on the future of its development studio Bizarre Creations in Liverpool despite it producing critically acclaimed titles such as Blur.

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA says: “We've had a fantastic tradition of developing Triple A titles and the workforce is second to none - which is why the Canadians keeping trying to poach our staff.

“The risk we run is losing out on the growing share of the videogame market and we should be attracting more overseas investors to fund studios and game development in the UK and if we have games tax relief we'd be in a better position to do that.”

Figures released by TIGA show there are now 278 games companies in the UK, up from 264 in 2008. There has also been a net growth in the number of games companies with 145 start-ups as opposed to 131 closures.

But the majority of the new companies are small teams, often formed out of closures and between July 2008 and September 2010, the UK's studio headcount fell by nine per cent, the survey claims. In 2008, 9,900 people were employed in gaming but that is down to 9,010 today.

Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, said action is needed and added: “MPs know we need exports and growth and the financial services industry are not going to plug the gap any more. Where are high school jobs going to be coming from in the future? We happen to have a national mindset that allows us to develop some of the best games in the world.”

He added: “Cancelling tax relief was a reprehensible decision based on ignorance. It will cost jobs and I just hope it doesn't break the industry.”

Watson has been a keen backer of a tax break for UK game production and he tabled an Early Day Motion in February calling for such a move.

In March, then chancellor Alistair Darling announced plans for 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”.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

    Ashdown Group: European Recruitment Manager - Cheshire - up to £48,000

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus and benefits: Ashdown Group: European Recrui...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
    Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

    Confessions of a former PR man

    The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

    Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

    Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
    London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

    The mother of all goodbyes

    Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
    Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

    Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

    The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
    Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions