I’ve been reading a lot about tax breaks in the past couple of months. First there was the anticipation and ultimate disappointment of Digital Britain, when we hoped that the games industry might get the tax breaks it needed. A missed opportunity, many said.
More recently there has been the report from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), calling for tax breaks for the games industry and spelling out the consequences if they aren’t forthcoming. There was also a report on the BBC talking about a similar situation for animators.
I feel that the consequences are simple: without tax breaks, the industry, whether games or animation, will crumble. This isn’t because the industries are struggling; far from it. The UK games and animation industries are among the most talented, innovative and influential in the world. However, in order to remain competitive, we need to see tax breaks. This is because other countries already have tax breaks, allowing their industries to compete on a global level by offering huge salaries and benefits, the likes of which UK companies can not hope to match. When a developer or animator, who has worked hard for a decade plus on his or her skills, is suddenly offered not only a salary bump, but also bonuses, relocation costs and a host of other benefits, it becomes very hard to turn down by even the staunchest patriot.
The creative industries need the breaks. Without it, the very thing that make them among the best in the world, the talent, will no longer be British – it’ll be Canadian, American, French, Russian, Korean, and the companies (and ultimately the economies) to benefit will be from those countries as well.