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Ed Vaizey critical of UK govt support for games

Shadow Culture Minister cites industry as a "critically important economic growth area"

Shadow Culture Minister Ed Vaizey MP has strongly criticised the lack of support given by the present government to the UK videogames industry, which he has labelled as a "critically important economic growth area".

Additionally he outlined plans on behalf of the Conservative Party that would, in the event of a change in government next year, extend the remit of the Film Council to include the videogames industry, as well as offer recognition that developers - as high technology companies - face specific challenges in attracting investment in the UK.

"NESTA's research suggests the UK videogames sector could shrink by 16.5 per cent over five years, resulting in the loss of more than GBP 180 million in external investment and nearly 1700 jobs," he said during the London Game Conference. "As in so many other areas, Labour ministers simply do not seem to care that we are falling behind our competitors in a critically important economic growth area."

But while he pledged to give the industry the support it needed to compete globally, in keeping with the Party's overall policy of addressing the national debt, he stopped short of promising more cash to companies.

"Gordon Brown's economic mismanagement means the UK government simply has not had the fiscal headroom to offer the kind of support that has been available in some other countries," he said. "But just because they cannot offer tax breaks, does not excuse them actively doing down the industry.

"I would love nothing more than to work with you to facilitate the investment and risk-taking the industry needs. We are campaigning at a time when Britain is broke, but this creates an opportunity to shape policies that assist the high tech entrepreneurs that will drive our economy in the future. The videogames sector must play a key part in this."

With a general election to come in 2010 and the Conservative Party ahead in a number of polls any political statements made now by those who could soon be in power are likely to impact a wide section of the industry.

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