Chancellor George Osborne announced the 2016 Budget yesterday, setting out the government’s tax and spending plans for the next year and beyond.
95% of games companies are micro, small or medium sized enterprises, and 64% of firms were incorporated in the last 5 years. The Budget introduces a number of measures which will have a positive impact on small and micro games firms. Chief among these are cuts to business rates and stamp duty for lower-value properties, as well as some targeted support for the digital economy.
Responding to the announcements, Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said:
“It’s good news for small studios. The overwhelming majority of games firms are small or micro studios, most of which have emerged in the last five years. Cuts to business rates and stamp duty will reduce the tax burden for these firms and boost growth and so will be welcomed by the UK games industry.
Looking to the future we will continue to call for public support for innovative games content through National Lottery funds, just like Film and TV have at the moment. We also want to see long-term investment in talent and await further details in the Education White Paper tomorrow.”
More detail will follow once the Treasury and other Departments follow up on the speech.
· Cuts to business rates totalling £6.7 billion over five years, targeted at small businesses. 600,000 small businesses, including games companies, will pay no business rates at all.
· Stamp Duty on commercial properties will be changed to a marginal system, reducing the large jumps in taxation between different property values, and rates will be cut for lower-value properties. As a result, 90% of non-residential properties will be taxed less or the same.
· A new Museums and Galleries Tax Relief from April 2017, supporting the development and touring of new creative exhibitions
· Corporation tax will be cut further to 17% in 2020
· Capital gains tax will be cut from 28% to 20%, and from 18% to 10% for basic-rate payers
· Self-employed people will see class 2 National Insurance Contributions abolished from April 2018, representing an average tax cut of £134 each.
· A new sharing economy tax allowance of £1,000 each for property and trading income – removing taxes from income made through online platforms such as AirBnB.
· Tax-free personal allowance and higher-rate threshold both to be raised. The personal allowance will go up to £11,500 in 2017-18. Higher-rate income tax will be incurred from £45,000, rather than £42,500.
· Some new detail on the Apprenticeship Levy: from April 2017, employers will receive a 10% top-up to their monthly levy contributions in England and this will be available for them to spend on apprenticeship training through their digital account. The government will set out further details on the operating model in April and draft funding rates will be published in June.
· A new Broadband Investment Fund, in partnership with private sector investors, to support the growth of alternative broadband networks by providing greater access to finance
· A 5G strategy in 2017, based on an assessment by the National Infrastructure Commission of how the UK can become a world leader in 5G
· Establish a panel of leading experts, chaired by Kathryn Parsons, to shape the £20 million Institute for Coding competition
Measuring the Industry
The government has accepted all the recommendations from the Bean Review of Economic Statistics, including:
· Invest over £10 million in a new ONS hub for data science: “The centre for excellence will improve the Office for National Statistics’ capability to measure the changes in the UK’s digital economy and to push the frontiers of economic measurement.”
Ukie will continue to make the case to the government, setting out how the UK can be the best place in the world to make and sell games, as demonstrated in our Blueprint for Growth report.