The Video Games Tax Relief programme has been officially renewed through to 2023, after it was originally scheduled to expire in April 2018.
Introduced by then-Chancellor Alistair Darling back in 2010, the tax relief fund was planned as a five-year period during which games companies based in the UK could receive rebates on their taxes - encouraging, its proponents claimed at the time, the growth of the industry. Based heavily on similar tax relief offered to the UK film industry, the Video Games Tax Relief programme was short-lived: After being introduced in March 2010 by Darling it was killed off in June that year by his successor George Osbourne. Its loss was heavily criticised by the industry leading to an about-face on the matter, and a heavy push by lobby groups saw the plans reborn in 2013 with applicability from April 2014.
Given a five-year plan, though, the Video Games Tax Relief programme was scheduled to expire in April 2018 - until confirmation from the European Commission that the programme has been extended until April 2023. 'Today’s announcement by the EU Commission is excellent news, not just for the video games industry but also for the wider economy' claims Richard Wilson, chief executive of games industry group TIGA which has fought for the relief programme. 'Video Games Tax Relief will continue to promote investment, job creation and business growth in our high technology, high skills, export focused industry.
'TIGA has consistently argued that Video Games Tax Relief is justified on three grounds. Firstly, it enables the UK video games industry to compete on a more level playing field against our overseas competitors who benefit from similar forms of relief. Secondly, the Relief promotes the production of culturally British video games. Thirdly, the Relief encourages economic growth: in the three years before Video Games Tax Relief was announced, the UK’s development headcount declined on average by 3.6 per cent each year. In the four years after the announcement, it grew on average by 7.1 percent each year.'