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Chancellor backs games at private meeting of industry leaders

By Johnny Minkley

Thu 17 Feb 2011 7:03am GMT / 2:03am EST / 11:03pm PST

'George Osborne wants to work with us', says Eidos' Livingstone

Chancellor George Osborne offered his support for the UK games industry at a private meeting of senior media and entertainment executives earlier this month, can reveal.

Eidos life president Ian Livingstone was among those invited to a lunch on February 7, where a wide-ranging discussion was held on how the Government can better work with digital and creative industries as part of the Growth Review it launched late last year.

It is understood that topics covered included access to finance, skills, broadband, tax, distribution and copyright.

Speaking this week, Livingstone, who co-authored the recent Government-sponsored Skills Review, told "The fact that we had representation at the meeting is an acknowledgment in itself that the videogames industry is being taken seriously and that it is important socially, culturally and economically to the UK."

On the Chancellor's attitude towards the gaming sector, Livingstone was positive, adding: "There was certainly a great sense of his wanting to work with, and assist, the digital and creative industries to ensure they become a cornerstone of the UK economy, acknowledged and viewed as a valuable sector like the financial and pharmaceutical sectors."

The precise details Osborne shared with his guests remains unclear, but has learned that the group included: BBC Worldwide chief executive John Smith; Warner Bros. UK president John Berger; Channel 4 boss David Abraham; music industry executive Andy Heath; former Endemol chairman and current deputy chair of the English National Opera Peter Bazalgette; Patrick McKenna, chief executive of media advisory group Ingenious; and Double Negative MD Alex Hope, who produced the Skills Review alongside Livingstone.

The Chancellor's relationship with the games industry got off to a rocky start last June when he cancelled Labour's plans for games tax relief in his first Budget, calling the measure "poorly-targeted".

Osborne and Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, launched the Growth Review in November to examine what Government departments can do to help boost the private sector.

Osborne said at the time: "By working closely with business and industry in this intensive programme of work, Government can make sure that Britain is open for business."

The Chancellor is due to report back on the Review in his Budget on March 23.

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Nathan Hall Studying ba(hons) in creative computer games design, Swansea Metropolitan University

5 0 0.0
so essentially just trying to fully understand this they are re-reviewing the relief to see if anything can be accomplished after March 23rd

Posted:5 years ago


Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 708 0.8
Offered his support? Talk is cheap.

I'm stunned at just how bad this current government is. At least it looks like they're backtracking on selling off the forests.

I'll be very surprised if they introduce tax breaks in the budget. Wouldn't be surprised if there's some wishy washy commitment to reviewing them.

Posted:5 years ago


Steven Yau Senior Game Developer,

18 0 0.0
Exactly my thoughts Fran. Until someone actually commits, I am not holding my breath. At least the tact has changed to cover a broader area of industry so some leverage could be gained there.

Posted:5 years ago


Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 708 0.8
@ Steven. The government is very keen to engage on a broader ranger of issues because, frankly, it'll cost them less money.

Posted:5 years ago


Martyn Brown Managing Director, Insight For Hire

150 68 0.5
They better bloody hurry up. That is all.

Posted:5 years ago

Pure distraction techniques, some political gesticulation to appease the grassroots.
Even now, the coalition government is not really being pro business. All the current legislation, red tape and taxation are just to burden businesses further.

Frankly, until we see some definitive law for digital entertainment, I would not hold my breath about any true engagement between government and our entertainment sector.

Posted:5 years ago

Tax breaks mentioned by Don Foster, Ivan Lewis and Damian Collins at the NESTA Creative Clusters presentation yesterday. I think the Gov needs a strategy for growth in a digital economy and our industry offers more than just hope. We can never give up the quest or indeed the fight. All we want is a level playing field.....

Posted:5 years ago


Nik Love-Gittins Senior Character Artist, FreeStyleGames

59 27 0.5
Better late than never......oh, hold on....

Posted:5 years ago


Phil Morris Audio Producer

11 2 0.2
Meetings, schmeetings...all just talk.

Posted:5 years ago


Jas Purewal Partner, Purewal & Partners

35 0 0.0
@Chee Ming Wong - the government has been talking more recently about a 'fundamental reform' of IP law to bring it up to date with modern technology. But there is a long, long way to go before that becomes reality - and even then digital entertainment will just be one lobbying group among many.

Posted:5 years ago


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