Now that all three of the major parties' manifestos have been launched we look at the key take outs for the games and interactive entertainment sector. Read our own manifesto "Powering Up: manifesto for unlocking growth in the games industry" for our vision of what support our globally successful sector needs to become a true world leader.
The Labour Party manifesto was launched this week. The manifesto continues Jeremy Corbyn’s “10 pledges” theme launched at Labour Party Conference 2016. The section on Brexit states that the Labour would: "scrap the Conservatives’ Brexit white paper and replace it with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the single market and the customs union … immediately guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain … reject ‘no deal’ as a viable … ensure there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and that there is no change in the status or sovereignty of Gibraltar."
On talent and immigration the rhetoric continues to support “the many not the few” and there is acknowledgement that businesses will play a central role in identifying labour and skills shortages. There is also a commitment to protect those already working here and a welcome statement on international students, including a commitment to not include them in immigration numbers.
The Labour manifesto also includes a page devoted to the creative industries with key proposals including:
- Keeping the creative industries at the heart of Brexit negotiations and the Industrial Strategy
- Introduction of an Arts Council administrated £1 billion Cultural Capital Fund to upgrade existing cultural and creative infrastructure to be ready for the digital age
- Linking these to Creative clusters supported in a similar way to existing enterprise zones
- An end to cuts to Libraries museums and galleries
- Citing the games industry in particular an introduction of an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England, and a review of the EBacc to make sure the arts are not side-lined from secondary education
- The launch of a creative careers advice campaign
- A commitment to improving diversity “on and off screen”
- A suggestion measures will be introduced to oblige tech companies to further protect children and tackle online abuse
Elsewhere there is a commitment to appoint Digital Ambassadors to liaise with tech companies to promote the UK as an attractive place for investment and linking this to Start-up and scale up support. In general it is positive towards making the most out of digital and technological transformation and the skills and infrastructure needed to support that.
The Conservative Manifesto contains a number of commitments that could be supportive of the UK Games and Interactive Entertainment sector but also contains some worrying language concerning the role international talent will play in the future Britain.
The Manifesto highlights the role the digital and creative economy will play in driving the economy of the future including reiteration of existing commitments towards the infrastructure needed to service it. The manifesto in particular commits to creating:
- The world’s most dynamic digital economy, giving digital businesses access to the investment, skills and talent they need to succeed.
- Protections for people’s data online, backed by a new data protection law.
- Safety for children online, and new rights to require social media companies to delete information about young people as they turn eighteen.
- Digital government and public services, using data and digital technology to transform school choice, local services and issues like planning and social care.
- New rules for the digital economy, underpinned by domestic regulation and international partnership.
- Security online, with unprecedented investment in cyber security and stronger cyber standards for government and public services.
On skills there is some detail on the proposed T-Levels with the commitment to replace some 13,000 technical qualifications with new ones. “Digital” is referenced as one of the new areas of focus but interestingly it is listed separately to “creative and design”. There is also a commitment to a “right to lifelong learning in digital skills”, aimed at ensuring people are equipped with the digital skills for now and the future.
The digital chapter contains commitments to maintain leadership on open data and is generally strong on internet regulation, again with the ambition for the UK to become a world leader. How much of this achievable given the uncertainty of Brexit remains to be seen.
AI, VR and “gaming” are further highlighted as current strengths the Conservatives commit to continuing to support but are. Underpinning this is a commitment to develop a digital charter. This charter with two fundamental aims:
- to make Britain the best place to start and run a digital business; and
- to make Britain the safest place in the world to be online.
Again, the rhetoric is promising, recognising the role creativity plays alongside technical ability and there is promise of further support for start-ups and scale ups including new branches of the British Business Bank specialising in local sectors and complemented by “at least one new institute of technology” a partnership with the Tech industry specialising in “world leading digital skills”.
There is reference to building on the creative tax reliefs, acknowledging the success of the scheme in supporting the sector and this is followed up with further commitment to supporting the digital infrastructure needed to power businesses of the future, including a commitment to providing gigabit speed to “as many businesses as possible”.
The Conservatives remain consistent on their position towards online safety with an emphasis on responsibility belonging to Industry rather than individuals to safeguard citizens.
Under a section entitled “Digital Land” the Manifesto commits to combining elements of the Land registry, Ordnance Survey, The Valuation Office, the Hydrographic Office and Geological survey to create a comprehensive geospatial data body within government, the largest repository of open land data in the world which they believe will support the digital economy to innovate, Video Games and virtual reality are specifically name checked as potential beneficiaries of this new agency.
In terms of regulation the manifesto commits to establish a regulatory framework in law to underpin our digital charter and to ensure that digital companies, social media platforms and content providers abide by these principles.” And alongside this there is ambition to lead the way on an international legal framework that mirrors the existing frameworks for banking and trade
Yet these commitments risk being undermined by the direction of travel on international talent and immigration. The manifesto commits to addressing the immediate skills needs of those sectors of the economy suffering from shortages through an improved immigration system. Further it commits to setting aside a significant number of visas for workers in strategically-important sectors, such as digital technology. The manifesto then promises to double the Immigration Skills Charge in order to pay for further investment in high level skills development.
The Liberal Democrat’s Manifesto starts with a bold pledge to commit to a second referendum allowing the opportunity to vote to stay in the EU and is clear in its position to fight a hard Brexit. Elsewhere it promotes a lifelong opportunity to learn and there is early mention of extending apprenticeships into “new sectors” such as the creative and digital industries.
The manifesto raises the importance of arts and creative subject in the curriculum, promising to remove barriers to students wishing to study these subjects.
Video games get a specific mention in the section committing continued support to the Creative Industries Council and there is positive news on the “tailored industry specific tax support”.
In terms of place, Creative Enterprise Zones are mentioned as a means to promoting growth and regeneration of the UK’s cultural Output.
There is encouraging news through a promise to review the business rates system that takes into account support for the digital economy and in the section looking at innovation, science and new technology there is acknowledgement of the role the science and innovation plays in the economy. Further support is committed to including a “network of tech incubators across the UK, building on the success of Tech City, Tech North and the Cambridge tech cluster.
The Liberal Democrats promise to prioritise making the positive case for immigration and there is specific recognition that immigration is essential to our economy and a benefit to our society. Specifically welcome are commitments to:
- Hold an annual debate in parliament on skill and labour market shortfalls and surpluses to identify the migration necessary to meet the UK’s needs.
- Continue to allow high-skilled immigration to support key sectors of our economy, and ensure work, tourist and family visas are processed quickly and efficiently.
- Recognising their largely temporary status, remove students from the official migration statistics.
- Ensure the UK is an attractive destination for overseas students. We will reinstate post-study work visas for graduates in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects who find suitable employment within six months of graduating. Give the devolved administrations the right to sponsor additional post-study work visas
The manifesto also promises to Introduce a digital bill of rights that protects people’s powers over their own information, supports individuals over large corporations, and preserves the neutrality of the internet.