Ed Vaizey breaks down UK games industry tax breaks

Develop 2010: British minister for culture addresses games industry for the first time since government's controversial reversal of incentives.

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Who was there: UK member of parliament Ed Vaizey has been one of the most high-profile supporters of the UK video game industry over the last couple of years. Vaizey was elected to government earlier this year, with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition replacing the outgoing Labour party. As the minister for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, he is responsible for listening to requests from the games industry and had promised to "actively consider" tax breaks for UK game makers.

Vaizey reaffirmed his support of the games industry in his speech.
Vaizey reaffirmed his support of the games industry in his speech.

What he talked about: Last month, the government's controversial reversal of the promised video game tax break sent ripples through the UK development community. In his first address to the industry since George Osborne's revised budget was announced, culture minister Ed Vaizey attended Brighton Develop to proclaim his support of the video games market, as well as address the development community's concerns.

As a vocal supporter of the game industry, Vaizey was quick to distance himself from the decisions made by the chancellor. "I can't emphasise enough after the budget that I'm not the chancellor!" he joked. However, he was also supportive of George Osborne's decisions, saying, "while none of [the budget cuts] are specific tax breaks for the industry, I think the budget is very good news for business."

The most controversial comment of the session came at the end, as Vaizey was prompted by a question from Richard Wilson, head of industry body TIGA. He asked, "If we present the case [for industry tax breaks] again, are you on site to argue the case?" Vaizey responded, "To put it bluntly, you haven't made the case because the chancellor didn't accept it," he stated. "You would need to make it to me and George Osborne again." However, he also reiterated, "I'm 100 percent a supporter of this industry."

Takeaway: The next step for Vaizey and the coalition government is a new independent review, headed up by games industry veterans Charles Cecil and Ian Livingston, which will "look carefully at how many people leaving game courses actually get into relevant fields," he said. He also spoke of a new £2 million ($3.05 million) investment in Abertay University to support smaller development studios.

For more on UK games industry tax breaks, watch our interview with TIGA's Richard Wilson.

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