Stephen Foley: Thomas and friends don't need government aid
Stephen Foley is a former Associate Business Editor of The Independent, based in New York. He left in August 2012. In a decade at the paper, he covered personal finance, the UK stock market and the pharmaceuticals industry, and had also been the Business section's share tipster. Between arriving with three suitcases in Manhattan in January 2006 and his departure, he witnessed and reported on a great economic boom turning spectacularly to bust. In March 2009, he was named Business and Finance Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards.
Friday 21 October 2011
Outlook Adam Werritty would have been a more sympathetic lobbyist as a cartoon.
Who could love a suited Scottish businessman? Not many. Yet who could say no to the massed ranks of Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig and Noddy?
Today's case of special pleading comes from Animation UK, lobby group for the country's animators, which makes the case that the industry needs tax breaks if it is to retain the hard-won gains of recent years, in which the UK has become one of the powerhouses of computer-generated animation and much-exported kids entertainment.
The argument is threefold. Taxpayer assistance is needed to counter cuts at the BBC; other countries are subsidising their industries; and tax breaks will be revenue-neutral. Animation brings in £300m of revenue, annually, and contributes vastly more to the economy. It provides a backbone to the £1.4bn CGI industry, and the £1bn computer-games industry, and who can put a price on the brand value to UK Plc of Thomas and Friends? By supporting the sector with a few tax breaks, the Treasury can expect corporate and income taxes to rise from across the creative industries, Animation UK says.
Don't let the cartoonists tug your hearts. As they point out, the industry has thrived largely without this sort of government support in the past, thanks to the formidable advantage the UK has in local talent. Sorry, Gromit, old chap, there are more pressing uses for taxpayer monies right now.
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