Brexit has been an unholy nightmare for over a year now, but gaming collective TIGA have put out a statement on how English game devs ought to affect how politicians should respond to the political morass that is the UK leaving the EU. While not the only games collective to discuss Brexit, TIGA has timed their statement well the United Kingdom has had a rather interesting reaction as the day to leave the European Union looms over their heads, and TIGA seems to hope that they can leverage the strenght of the British games development community to further their cause.
TIGA is a network for games developers and digital publishers and the trade association representing the video games industry, so naturally they are rather against Brexit as it would harm the country's ability to gather tech talent from throughout the EU. And today's substantive reports sets out a policy agenda for Government, Parliament and policy makers to consider as the UK negotiates its departure from the European Union.
Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO, wrote the following statement, "TIGA's Brexit and Beyond: Priorities for the UK Video Games Industry, sets out a cogent, coherent and constructive agenda for ensuring the UK games sector is a leading player in an industry that is predicted to be worth approximately $100 billion by 2018. If the UK creates a favourable tax environment with an enhanced Games Tax Relief, improves access to finance and enables studios to access talent, then the UK video games industry will both survive and thrive in a post-Brexit world."
The UK video games industry already contributes £1.2 billion to UK GDP. This contribution will increase with the right policy environment in place. TIGA's Brexit: Priorities for the UK Video Games Industry, has ten key themes, iterated below:
1. The UK needs a favourable tax environment to encourage businesses to invest in the UK. The Government should consider:
increasing the rate of Video Games Tax Relief from 25 to 27.5 or 30 per cent.
2. Access to finance: The UK Government should:
introduce a Video Games Investment Fund to provide pound for pound match funding up to a maximum of £200,000 to enable more studios to grow;
maintain the UK Games Fund so that start-ups can access funding for prototypes; and
increase the amount of money that a company can raise via SEIS investment from £150,000 to £200,000.
3. Access to talent: The UK Government should:
ensure that EU workers already working in the UK are protected so that they can continue to work in the UK with the confidence that they are not going to be asked to leave the UK in the future and clarify the status of EU workers who enter the UK following the EU referendum and prior to the UK's exit from the EU. The Government set out its offer to the EU concerning the status of EU workers on June 26th 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safeguarding-the-position-of-eu-citizens-in-the-uk-and-uk-nationals-in-the-eu
The Government should also consider the following options:
negotiate a general reciprocal freedom of movement rights for workers with a job offer;
negotiate an agreement which retains reciprocal freedom of movement rights for workers in the video games industry;
provide approximately 500 Work Permits per annum for the UK video games industry;
add roles (e.g. Games Analyst and Engine Programmer) to the Shortage Occupation List where there is a specific skills shortage so that employers can recruit the employees they need without undue delay;
ensure that any new immigration arrangements are not complex or costly for business.
4. Exports, trade agreements and tariffs: The UK Government should:
negotiate a trade deal with the EU that avoids quotas, tariffs and other barriers to trade to the greatest possible extent;
maintain free trade in video games;
negotiate trade deals with growing economies;
examine the potential for incentivising more businesses to export through the tax system.
5. Intellectual Property: The UK Government should:
consider introducing arrangements for the conversion or extension of a EU trademark or registered community design to cover the UK.
6. Data Protection: The UK Government should:
adopt and adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure that companies based in the UK and doing business in the EU can continue to smoothly transfer information and data.
7. Higher Education: The UK Government should:
make up any short-fall in funding following the UK's departure from the EU and ensure that any new visa system governing migration does not impair the ability of UK universities to recruit either academic staff or students from the EU.
8. Skills and Training: The advent of Brexit increases the importance of developing a well-educated and highly skilled workforce. The UK Government could consider:
conducting a cost/benefit analysis of extending the life of the Skills Investment Fund to maximise investment in skills in the creative industries;
allowing the proceeds of the Apprenticeship Levy to be available to fund a variety of good quality courses and not solely apprenticeships so that employers can choose the right training programme to benefit their employees and their businesses;
working closely with industry to increase diversity within the sector so that studios can access the widest possible range of skills;
examining the case for the introduction of a pilot Training Tax Relief for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to offset expenditure on training against corporation tax.
9. Fiscal policy: The UK Government should consider:
increasing investment in infrastructure, including transport and fibre optic broadband, to cushion the UK from the shock of Brexit and to enhance the country's long term competitiveness, if economic growth falters.
10. A British Games Institute: The UK Government should consider:
introducing a British Games Institute (BGI) to drive the video games sector forward. The BGI would focus on: managing TIGA's long standing proposal for a Games Investment Fund; promoting British games culture; and increasing productivity in the industry.
Notes to editors: