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UK govt "committed" to review industry tax relief options

Games should be treated like films, says report - but should be "culturally British" to qualify

The UK government has committed itself to looking seriously at possible new tax relief options for videogames developers based in the country.

The news, from the Digital Britain report released yesterday, concedes the point that the UK's industry position is increasingly threatened by overseas competition, and accepts for the first time that games should be seen in the same light as films.

But it also notes that, like films - and similar to the concessions given to the development community in France by the government there - any tax relief should lead to the creation of "culturally British" games, a definition which has previously caused some confusion in the movie business.

"The Government has... committed to work with the industry to collect and review the evidence for a tax relief to promote the sustainable production for online or physical sale of culturally British videogames," read the report. "This work will balance any potential support with the need for fair competition and ensure value for money for taxpayers."

The report goes on to list the three key objectives as follows:

  • Support the creation and retention of new IP and technology in the UK and the emergence and growth of new companies
  • Maintain a critical mass of UK creative and technical expertise to facilitate the production of culturally British videogames
  • Encourage the production of culturally significant videogames that may otherwise not be made in the UK

Also mentioned in the report was the planned creation of a Usability Centre for Video Games, to be based in the MediaCity complex in Salford and used as "a national resource withcompanies from any part of the UK able to use the available facilities."

"The primary aim of such a Centre is to address issues around skills development offering graduates the work related training necessary to enable them to secure their first job in the industry and helping to bridge the current gap," read the report. "The opportunities offered would build on existing training and skills work such as that established by the University of Abertay, Dundee, who have demonstrated how to successfully equip graduates for work in the industry.

"We will work with industry and expedite the collection of further evidence in order to ensure the scope of the proposal meets the industries' needs. We will also consider whether or not there is a case for providing funding from the Strategic Industry Fund following the development of a business plan."

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