By Kevin Unitt 23/03 Updated: 23/03 16:06
MEMBERS of the 'Silicon Spa' computer games industry in and around Leamington have welcomed long-awaited tax breaks.
Amid a swath of business-friendly measures announced in chancellor George Osborne's budget this week was a plan to introduce corporation tax relief from April 2013 for the video games, animation and high-end television industries as part of plans to make the UK the “technology centre of Europe.”
It has come as great news to more than 1,000 people employed across 14 game development companies in and around Leamington.
Bruce Everiss, an industry veteran who works at Kwalee off The Parade – a company set up by gaming pioneer David Darling last year – told the Observer the tax breaks were a “bargain” for the British tax payer because so much game industry business had been leaving the UK, along with talented workers, to countries like Canada which offer lots of incentives to develop games.
He added: “This is very important for Leamington because there are 14 game development companies in the centre with some others, such as Codemasters, very near.
“Leamington is a centre of worldwide significance for the game industry and it is an industry that is booming. With iPhone games alone increasing in popularity at 2,000 per cent per year, many of the Leamington game companies are recruiting.
“These tax breaks will further enhance Leamington's position, safeguarding the many game industry jobs here and hopefully attracting many more.”
The industry has lobbied for such changes for several years.
In 2010, then chancellor Alistair Darling promised tax incentives for developers but the pledge was never delivered because Labour lost the next election and the incoming Conservatives said they could not afford to follow it through.
Therefore the tax relief announcement has been met with some surprise as well as delight.
Peter Williamson, managing director of Supersonic Software in Adelaide Road, said: “We welcome the announcement.
“From a tax perspective the UK games industry is currently at a competitive disadvantage to other countries, so measures to address this are very welcome.
“Anything that levels the playing field and allows the UK’s world class game development industry to flourish further is great. We await the details though,”
Philip Oliver, chief executive of Blitz Games Studios, based off The Parade, added: “We are overjoyed at the Government’s announcement that it intends to introduce tax relief for the industry, it’s certainly been a long time coming.
“Beyond the potential financial benefits, i.e. reducing the cost of games development allowing us to invest more in our industry, this tax relief will create greater stability and enable UK companies to provide a more appealing industry to work in, retaining more talent in Britain.”
Justin Eames, managing director of Leamington-based digital agency Fish in a Bottle, said: "I applaud the decision.
"This will allow companies such as ours to innovate further and compete on a global level.
"Our local economy will directly benefit through the creation of jobs as well as providing increased security for the hundreds of talented people who already work for games companies in and around Leamington."
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