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UK games businesses tepid on government policies

Developer body Tiga demands action for companies as "part of the UK’s digital future"

UK developer trade body, Tiga, has released a statement reaffirming the need for the videogames industry to receive attention in tomorrow's government Budget statement as new research shows that businesses are solidly unimpressed by the policies so far.

According to the Business Opinion Survey, commissioned by Tiga, over half of respondents felt that the current level of support shown was either unfavourable or very unfavourable, while only 3 per cent viewed it with any positivity at all.

Tiga CEO Richard Wilson warned again that the UK was in danger of seeing its traditionally-strong games industry fall further down the global pecking order as the government fails to act to balance out tax initiative imbalances compared to countries such as Canada and France.

"Our Business Opinion Survey confirms that game developers consider UK Government policy to be unfavourable towards the industry," he said. "Additionally, on balance more games businesses in our survey are less optimistic about their business's prospects and the outlook for investment now in comparison to six months ago.

"Last Friday Gordon Brown, the PM, said that Britain must invest in the digital future as it is fundamental to the productivity and innovative capacity of so many other sectors. Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, said that the UK must continue to 'Develop our strengths as a knowledge-based economy with high-value technology at its core.'

"The UK videogames industry is part of the UK's digital future and a classic example of our knowledge based economy. In tomorrow's Budget, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, must focus on supporting new and creative industries like the videogames sector, not least through a tax break for games production, measures to provide finance for investment and steps to increase the supply of highly skilled employees. A failure to do so will harm the UK's short and long term recovery."

Other results from the survey indicate that opinions are mixed on the industry's immediate future, although over half of companies admitted finding it more difficult to borrow money in the current climate, and exactly half were unsure about investment in research and development or training than they were six months ago.

On a positive note, three-quarters of companies expected to see their workforce grow, while almost half anticipated net profits to rise in the next six months.

The Budget Statement will be released tomorrow, although there's a lot of pressure on the government to make significant savings as the country's net debt spirals - conditions which would seem to make a key change of heart over games industry support less likely.

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Phil Elliott