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Ex-Lloyd Webber accountant to advise Labour on tax breaks for creative sector

Millionaire asked to devise financial incentives to encourage entrepreneurs in the media, music and fashion industries

Labour will this week sign up Andrew Lloyd Webber’s multimillionaire former accountant to help the party develop tax policy to stimulate growth in media, music, fashion and other creative industries, in an effort to make the country less reliant on the City for economic success.

Patrick McKenna, who runs the Ingenious banking group and is worth an estimated £500m, will spend the coming months trying to devise a new scheme of financial incentives which aim to emulate the success of the film tax regime which has lured Hollywood production to the UK.

His appointment will be unveiled by Ivan Lewis, the shadow culture secretary, on Wednesday, as the party unveils its preliminary thinking on policy for creative industries. Lewis said the party had been “late converts” to the idea of industrial policy when in government, but in opposition it was committed to “introducing an industrial strategy” for the sector.

An estimated 800,000 people work in the creative sector in the UK, according to research published by Europe Economics, and combined the sector accounts for an estimated 7% of GDP. Businesses include television, publishing, design, computer games, film, music and advertising.

Lewis believes that Britain has only managed to create “a handful of global businesses and lots of micro businesses” in a sector dominated by US companies – and hopes that McKenna will be able to devise a regime that encourages entrepreneurs to stay invested as opposed to making money by selling out.

McKenna’s Ingenious group is a specialist tax and financial adviser to media companies, helping back Spice Girls svengali Simon Fuller, advise Robbie Williams on a £50m record deal with EMI, and part financing films such as Avatar. His recruitment is a coup for Labour: the accountant has no track record as a donor or party supporter. Prior to setting up Ingenious, McKenna was the chief executive of Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group.

Under Labour, the Treasury introduced a string of tax breaks designed to stimulate film production in Britain in the face of competition from countries like the Czech Republic. The policy has led to films like Captain America shooting New York street scenes in Manchester. It has seen film production hit record levels. Last year 119 films were made or partly made in Britain, spending £1.15bn in the process.

However, plans to introduce a similar tax break to stimulate computer games development were dropped by the coalition government, which said the benefit could not be afforded in the light of Britain’s financial problems. Lewis would not be drawn on whether McKenna would support a computer games tax break, but said: “The fact remains that Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberals all went into the election planning to introduce a games break and it hasn’t been introduced.”

Labour has also sent in its initial submission to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry into phone hacking, press standards and media regulation.

In an interview with the Guardian, Lewis said that the party was committed to introducing rules tightening cross media ownership laws – although he would not say whether the party was committed to blocking any future combination of News International’s Sun and Times titles with BSkyB. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds