Dear Chancellor, this is the games industry calling

George Osborne redbox

Ukie prepares for Chancellor's final Budget

This Wednesday, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivers the final Budget of this coalition government. With a general election less than two months away, this will be a politically charged event. Our CEO Dr Jo Twist wrote to the Chancellor in the Autumn, and last month, setting out several proposals for the government to further support and grow the UK’s creative digital economy and games industry, including a new Prototype Fund and an extension to the Skills Investment Fund. You can read the full letter here.

In summary.... 

The fantastic achievements of Video Games Tax Relief and the Computing curriculum that have been secured under this government can be the foundation for a great future for the UK games industry. We believe that these proposals will help bring that to pass.

We made five clear, concrete proposals to the Chancellor:

  1. Extension of the crucial Skills Investment Fund to support the up-skilling of the games workforce for a sustainable future
  2. Support for affordable work spaces in priority games clusters across the country
  3. A new version of the successful Prototype Fund to support innovation by small games companies;
  4. Expansion of the Enterprise Investment Schemes; and
  5. Support for a worldwide plan of trade and investment activity for the games industry

We believe that putting all of these in place will fully activate Video Games Tax Relief and turbo-charge the growth potential of our industry.

Maintaining the Skills Investment Fund is hugely important – where the support offered under this scheme has been accessed by the games industry, to bring in affordable trainees and improve the skills of existing employees, it has made a real, tangible impact. With tax relief now starting to gain momentum, it is vital that we keep this support in place to ensure the new demand being generated for skills can be met.

It is also vital that we make sure the clusters of games companies that have arisen around the country – in places such as Leamington Spa, Cambridge, Dundee and Brighton – are properly supported and enabled to grow. Giving support for affordable co-working spaces in these hubs and using them to distribute seed funding could make a huge difference.

The Prototype Fund would also be an important measure to enhance the success of tax relief, by giving more companies help to get their game idea to its first stage and improve their chances of securing full commercial funding. The first version of the Prototype Fund had a strong, proven impact, and we want to see that same support available to more games companies.

One of the most successful government finance schemes in recent years has been the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), and its more recent partner the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). We believe that the government should build on the success of the two schemes so far by going further, particularly in relation to SEIS. The thresholds for the amounts that companies can receive, and the amounts that individuals can invest, should be increased for both SEIS and EIS. In particular, we recommend that the company investment threshold for SEIS be raised to £500,000 per year.

Finally, if we are to see the fullest impact from Video Games Tax Relief, we need to make sure the rest of the world knows about it, and how it is helping make the UK an even better place to make and sell games. We need additional funding to undertake a coordinated and strategic programme of trade and investment activity targeting priority markets for exports and inward investment, and our letter to the Chancellor asks for his help with this.

We think this is a package of ideas that would have a direct, strong impact in helping build the creative digital economy that the UK needs. We look forward to hearing on Wednesday whether the Chancellor will be taking them forward.

We will be Tweeting anything relevant to the games industry that is annonced from about 12.30pm on Wednesday so make sure you stay tuned to @UkieAndyT and @uk_ie to get the news as we hear it.