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
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

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

    Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

    £30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

    Day In a Page

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable