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Chancellor backs games at private meeting of industry leaders

'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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Johnny Minkley: Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.
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