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”.

News
The current recommendation from Britain's Chief Medical Officer, is that people refrain from drinking on at least two days a week
food + drinkTheory is that hangovers are caused by methanol poisoning
Life and Style
techConcept would see planes coated in layer of micro-sensors and able to sense wear and tear
News
Patrick Stewart in the classiest ice bucket to date
people
Sport
Premier League Live Saturday 23 August
sportAll the action from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Software Engineer)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C#.NET VB6 Developer (Software Developer, Softwa...

    SQL Developer (TSQL, SSRS, SSAS) Fund Manager - London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...

    Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, Angular.JS)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, Jasmine, An...

    Front-End UI/UX Developer (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, Ang

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...

    Day In a Page

    All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

    Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

    So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

    Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
    What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

    What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

    Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

    The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
    Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

    Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

    Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
    Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

    Radio 1’s new top ten

    The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

    A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
    Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

    Florence Knight's perfect picnic

    Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
    Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

    Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

    The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
    Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

    Mark Hix's summery soups

    Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
    Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

    Tim Sherwood column

    I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

    Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

    The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
    Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

    Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

    The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition