The UK's creative industries are now worth a record £84.1 billion to the UK economy, according to new figures released today by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. This growth is up 8.9 per cent from 2013 - almost double the pace of the UK economy as a whole.
The estimates on the games sector, however, continue to face inconsistencies in how data and companies are captured and classified formerly. The figures show impressive growth in employment, rising from 19,000 in 2013 to 24,000 last year, an increase of 26% in just one year. But they portray a fall in GVA (Gross Value Added, a measure of contribution to the economy), which reportedly dropped from £599 million to £426 million. This is at odds with figures in Ukie's November 2015 Blueprint for Growth Report, which estimated the GVA of the industry at £935 million in 2014.
As in previous years, these difficulties stem from the way the current official Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) system is put together. Our September 2014 report with Nesta, A Map of the UK Games Industry, found 1,904 games and interactive entertainment companies working in the UK, only one third of which were included in the SIC codes that government uses to estimate the size of the games industry. The DCMS release itself notes that, due to the insufficient level of data from SIC codes, "estimates at this level of detail are volatile and dependent on survey data and, as such, should be treated with caution. In particular, single years of data can be misleading."
Lacking a modern classification that refelcts the sector is seen could potentially hinder the development of government interventions similar to those on offer to film and TV to support the growth and diversity of the industry.
The games industry is currently enjoying impressive growth, strengthened by the 2014 introduction of the Video Games Tax Relief, which has had a profound effect on games companies in the UK being able to hire more talented staff. Ukie will continue to work with DCMS and the Office for National Statistics to improve the accuracy of the official estimate to properly reflect this success and communicate it to the world.
Dr Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, responded to the stats, saying:
It is encouraging to see such impressive growth in the creative industries as a whole. However, we recognise that there remain issues for how the games sector is counted because there are inconsistencies in how companies are representing in Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC). We are lobbying to change this and encourage all companies to find out how they are classified in their Companies House information. Games in the UK are going from strength to strength and are a real economic and creative leader in the creative industries, as is evidenced in our Blueprint report."
Access to true representative data about our sector's size and economic contribution is of huge value to Ukie in our work to represent the industry nationally and internationally so we can ensure government interventions work best. We will continue to work with games businesses, Nesta, and DCMS to improve the data that is available to us.
We have produced a guide on how to check which SIC code your company is listed under, and steps you can take to change to the correct code.