TIGA and ELSPA unite in major tax break push

TIGA and ELSPA unite in major tax break push

By Rob Crossley

July 12th 2010 at 2:13PM

New â??Steering Committeeâ?? to review tax relief campaign so far, and prepare next steps

Britain’s two pivotal game trade associations are to team up in a bid to breathe new life into the campaign for game tax breaks.

Both TIGA and ELSPA have formed a Steering Committee - purpose built for the UK tax relief campaign.

An official statement read: “The committee will address the issue of why the coalition government withdrew the provision for games tax relief in the emergency budget.”

The body will also review TIGA’s original submission for games tax relief, “with a view to further enhancing the arguments”.

TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said: “The games industry and policymakers know that the UK does not operate on a level playing field and we are seeing jobs and investment move abroad to countries that offer specific games tax breaks.”

ELSPA UNANIMOUS
The formation of the Steering committee was made on Friday last week during a key ELSPA board meeting.

A statement released by ELSPA states that those present at the board meeting had “unanimously agreed to positively support TIGA and UK developers’ desire to gain tax breaks for the production of qualifying videogames and interactive entertainment products”.

Present at the meeting were some of the biggest publishers in the world, each declaring to throw their weight behind the key industry initiative.

505 Games, Activision, Disney, Electronic Arts, Mastertronic, Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Computer Entertainment, Square Enix and Warner Brothers were unanimous in their decision to support TIGA’s campaign.

All involved will look to improve and amplify existing shouts from the industry.

‘NEED TO ACT’
Some of the biggest studios in the UK also called on the government to recognise calls from within the UK.

Crytek UK managing director Karl Hilton said tax relief measures were “critical” to UK businesses.

“We face an increasingly competitive international marketplace both for skilled people and inward investment,” he said.

That claim was backed by Gareth Edmondson, the CEO of Driver studio Ubisoft Reflections.

“Games tax relief represents a strategic investment both in the know-how and technology that originally put the UK games industry on the map and in the numerous jobs that it provides,” said Edmonson.

“This is a growing industry; it’s an industry for tomorrow as well as today. But it needs a favourable environment and full support to continue to be a viable player in the global market.”

Industry veteran Philip Oliver – the CEO of Blitz Games Studios – called on the coalition government to back Britain’s lucrative and talented sector.

“The UK has always punched above its weight in the global video games industry,” he said, “and as the industry grows it is rapidly establishing itself as the leading entertainment format for the 21st Century.

“We need our government to recognise and support our UK industry in the face of mounting foreign supported competition so we can grow, create more jobs and more wealth for the country.”

Joining the call were a host of key UK development outfits, from DR Studios to Rebellion to Exient.

In March this year, Games Tax relief was given the green light during the last Budget of the Labour government. Yet the bill was never enacted by the time of the general election. By the time a new coalition government took reign, the policy was abolished.

Kuju Entertainment CEO Nigel Robbins said that the bitter rollercoaster ride had ‘shattered’ its confidence in investing in the UK.

“The announcement of Games Tax Relief in the last Labour Budget gave us the confidence to invest in the UK. Now that confidence has been shattered and we call on the Coalition Government to urgent rethink its strategy,” he said.