Shiny-faced toff overlord David Cameron has dodged giving a straight answer about scrapping games tax relief, despite being asked specifically about it in Prime Minister's Questions yesterday.
Dundee West Labour MP Jim McGovern posed the question to Cameron, pointing out that "in the run up to the general election his party said it was the party who supports small business, yet in their first budget they have scrapped the tax relief for the computer games industry."
McGovern asked the Prime Minister to tell "the hundreds of people in Dundee who work in the industry and the students and staff at the University of Abertay why the Chancellor believes it is poorly targeted." Dundee is home to five games studios, including Real Time Worlds and Dynamo Games, while the University of Abertay offers Computer Games Technology BSc and MSc courses.
Unsurprisingly, Cameron decided to dodge the bullet, giving an answer that didn't even mention the cancellation of video games tax relief. "What matters for small businesses are low taxes," said the Prime Minister, adding "my government has lowered the small company tax rate and we have lowered corporation tax. This will give the country one of the lowest tax rates in Europe. It was his party that voted against these changes."
While some independent British developers such as Cliff Harris have echoed similar sentiments, larger games studios trying to compete internationally have been hit hard by the cancellation of video games tax relief. Last week, some UK game devs expressed their anger at Canadian companies "circling like vultures since the news broke that we aren't getting any tax breaks." Meanwhile, both Sony and Activision have also implied that they will take future games investment elsewhere if tax relief plans aren't implemented.
"It is a great pity the Prime Minister chose not to answer the question," McGovern said in a statement on his website, adding that "changes to the tax system are not enough. This tax relief for the computer games industry remains vital and I hope on further reflection this government sees that."
McGovern compared the estimated £50 million annual cost of the tax break to the tax relief given to the film industry, which he says costs £110 million a year. "It is crucial for the future of the UK economy that we encourage highly skilled sectors and protect those jobs currently in the country," said the Dundee West MP.
"My constituency boasts 500 jobs around the games industry. If this government believes in helping business and getting the economy back on track, they must reconsider this decision."
Unafraid to question the Conservative chancellor's motives for overturning the tax relief plans, McGovern said "I would like the Chancellor to explain why he believes it is poorly targeted. Is it because the computer games industries are based in the North and not in the South?"