Hopes for UK tax breaks receding

Despite pre-election promises, the economic realities make any measures impossible, say insiders

Hopes for the implementation of tax breaks for the UK games community appear to be receding as the overall economic conditions in the country look increasingly bleak, with MPs Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey both facing up to the realities of convincing the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government to help fund the videogame sector.

According to the FT's digital media correspondent Tim Bradshaw, Hunt, giving his first speech as culture secretary today at London's Hospital Club, said he would "love" a tax credit system, but still needed to make the case to the new government.

However, with the Prime Minister David Cameron and new Chancellor George Osbourne both using very strong language about the extent of the UK's fiscal difficulties in the past week, political insiders have indicated to that announcing any kind of new industry tax breaks would be "impossible," and tantamount to "political suicide".

Back in March, before the UKs general election, the Labour chancellor Alistair Darling promised to support the UK games business with a tax credit system similar to that for regional movie making in the British film industry.

"This is a highly successful, growing industry, with half its sales coming from exports and we need to keep British talent in this country," he said then.

But at today's event, MP Ed Vaizey said that he still supported tax breaks in principle, but admitted in reality it could take two years to usher in a fair system, which would also need to be signed off by the European Parliament in Brussels: "I still support a videogames tax credit. The issue for us is timing," he said in an attempt to manage industry expectations moving forwards.

Conservative MP Vaizey has been a vocal supporter of tax breaks for the UK industry, along with the Liberal Democrats Don Foster and Labour's Tom Watson – all of which promised to continue to support the games sector beyond the general election.

But following pre-election celebrations by the UK games community, the new government has not issued any clarity on a tax relief system, despite the optimism of industry bodies TIGA and ELSPA.

More stories

Over 200 Chinese games firms reportedly vow to self-regulate in face of new restrictions

Statement from state-backed gaming association suggests firms will use facial recognition to identify minors

By James Batchelor

China trials website for public to report games violating new restrictions

Players encouraged to identify games that don't require real name registration or implement time and spending limits

By James Batchelor

Latest comments (17)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 11 years ago

So, is this the start of pre-election promises being broken, or a genuine case of it will happen, but later rather than sooner...? I can't imagine for most politicians that helping the gaming sector is particularly important.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D11 years ago
No surprise at all.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University11 years ago
Probably holding on to/clawing at as much money as they possibly can while it's still feasible to blame the last government. Might be better in future... might be.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Show all comments (17)
Phil Elliott Project Lead, Collective; Head of Community (London), Square Enix11 years ago
I suspect the phrase "even worse than we thought" from that BBC piece linked in the story will be something that we hear a fair amount about as justification for most post-election activity.

I have to say, if the govt on the one hand is saying that dealing with the deficit will affect "our whole way of life" I can't really see them dishing out new tax credits to the videogames industry.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Jay Crowe Creative Director, Bohemia Interactive11 years ago
A fresh supply of cynicism all round - double doses for those previously offering even the faintest of hopes.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Pity they don't actually see that a tax credit if it increases jobs (which it would) is actually tax positive - ie they will receive more in tax income than they pay out. Other countries have figured this out (especially with the punitive rates of income tax in the UK)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Right now, the new gov are encircled with their own cocoon of scythes and uber cutting chainsaws that all bets are off. Be glad they dont have plasma cutters!

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Miguel Melo Principal Software Engineer/Product Manager 11 years ago
Welcome to "this side" of the crisis divide guys... You'll find we all keep good company over here. Signed, a Portuguese former game developer. :-P
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Tameem Antoniades Creative Director & Co-founder, Ninja Theory Ltd11 years ago
At least the pound makes it more viable for US money to invest.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D11 years ago
What Tameem said, although that's been the case for a while now with the fall of sterling.

I suppose the Daily Mail crowd would go ballistic if they're cutting hospital places while at the same time "giving" money to studios to make killers out of kids.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Daniel Parker Senior Engineer, Proper Games Ltd11 years ago
Well if we are making killers out of kids, can't we get a little slice of the defence budget then ;)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
I'm not a Daily Mail reader but I would go ballistic too if they end up destroying the NHS whilst giving tax breaks to game development...
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Apologies for a NHS rant but I think the NHS has been getting alot of extra investment but for no improved value or less value....

I worked in the NHS at various hospitals in the North, Midlands and London for quite a while prior. The NHS, needs a total deep clean but has deep rooted working practises/politics and logistics that make it inherently hard towards continued excellent patient care.

Longer life, Chronic diseases and Expectations
With the improvement in medical sciences and extension of life, expectations are also increased whereby there is almost an expectation to not fail. In a system run by humans, a 100% non fatality care is not humanistically possible. And yet, there is that expectation...

Inevitably there will be close misses, and where everything goes spectacularly wrong - this due to a series of smaller events in itself, but overall inherently leads towards a tragic end sometimes. A case in point - stafford hosp inquiry.

Overall, I feel it was more of a case of overmanagement and "unrealistic" targets being issued (but did not improve overall patient care) and undersupply of support/funding to the areas that were lacking. Overall, I think this led to patient care deterioration - i.e less time looking after the patient, more time pushing pens and talking to your immediate supervisor. Red tape +

In the past 5 years, it feels almost like overnight - management type, staffing and bureaucrats swelled by a factor of 10-20x. Certain management roles were managed by non-clinical folk (whereas a ex-clinical role could lead to a more humanisitic appreciation towards patient care) and thus a bureaucratic approach to patient care inevitably led to no clinical improvement. Red tape ++

Targets and paperwork meant - in the rush to ensure targets were met, the methods of auditing and achieving these targets led to unorthodox management practises. This in turn, led towards a change in medical and clinical assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients in a daisy chain of referrals and specialist.The harold shipman enquiry and revalidation process to make folks more accountable (whilst good) doesnt help the final end process either. More red tape +

GP conundrum
The local GP doctor being able to opt out (I doubt if GPS will ever choose to opt back in) of evening and weekend care meant, it was far easier to attend A&E to receive some treatment than wait 5-10 days to book an appointment to see your regular trusted GP.

Out of hoursThis leads towards a influx of patient influx out of hours, thus overburdening the current patient population of beds, which causes a backlog onto immediate nursing care ratios eg. 5-8 patients to 1 nurse. With 1-2 healthcare assistants working.

Working patterns, Working Time Directive & experience
Changing working patterns to how medical teams work means overall less exposure and thus experience to how medics are trained/assessed and processed.

The European Working Time directive (gotta love the Europeans highers ups eh) states that medical folk need to work less than 48 hours. On one hand, it was meant to ensure medical folk are less worked and thus rested more....but during the transition period and for the forseeable future, rotating shift patterns are destructive to anyones working life. Totally.

Traditionally, you would be used to work 9-5pm for a normal non medical job.

Now imagine being asked to work at least 6-10 hours/day per week:
The methods of slicing the (torture) cake are endless. As a hospital administrator, you have to ensure there is medical care out of hours (at night and on weekends)

eg. Acute medical services
One could work 8-2pm, 12-6, 5 - 10pm, 8pm-2am. End result - More tired. Social life (nil). Morale (improvised). Experience (less).

Seriously, to keep running the NHS , let us jsut look at docs.
Doctors are thus forced to:

1/ Under-report the amount of work done (can you leave work knowing a patient is in acute extremis or need a extra pair of hands?) - 55%-90%

2/ Undertrained/experienced - 68%

3/ Voluntary work - surgeons feel they have to operate outside their normal work days to get the equivalent training (85%)

Specialists vs generalist. Decisions..Decisions
Gone are the days of being able to choose the speciality of your choice, the Labour experiment meant one had to choose a specialism before you graduated to ensure you streamlined into the practise you wanted. Fact is, no one really knows what they want to be without firstly experiencing it more. Sometimes, you dont choose your job, the job chooses you due to providence, circumstance or inability to move professions.

Funding did not reach the right departments or frontline services, investment, training and support of staff and overall (and that was just the small tip of the NHS iceberg. More dirty laundry needs sorting out internally from ground up)

I love the NHS in principle, although in practise it falls far short of the ideals and principles it set up towards excellent medical care.

So you see, its a perfect storm for any MP to take on healthcare. Where do you start?

Overall, the NHS needs a Batman reboot!


Edited 2 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 9th June 2010 2:42pm

0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Gregory Keenan11 years ago
@ Daniel - What defence budget? ;-)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D11 years ago
If the NHS needs a Batman reboot, I propose we get Rocksteady to sort it out. They're pretty good with Batman type stuff!
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
A Rocksteady batman NHS mascot would certainly be cool although Osborne would already have had some consultations and plans (district hospital amalgamations is probably on the cards, although in some rural areas doing so means significantly great loss and seem inconceivable eg. cumbria - if the local district hosp was not around, how could they cope with unprecedented gunshot wounds - unles your A&E senior had some South Africa/US tour of duty).

The regular Children in Need for GOS could get a Game franchising tie-in as well :)
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Terence Gage Freelance writer 11 years ago
I concur with the notion that Rocksteady should be put in control of the NHS, with Christopher Nolan directing.

They're currently in discussions with Danny Elfman over doing the score.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply

Sign in to contribute

Need an account? Register now.