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Gadgets & Games

Video games firms welcome Scottish Affairs Committee’s report

February 8 2011

The computer games sector has broadly welcomed the publication of a Scottish Affairs Committee report on the state of the industry. TIGA, the body that represents the video games industry, has backed the committee's findings that highlight the need to improve education for those entering software and IT development, provide greater incentives to retain skilled people in this country and recommend that tax relief for the industry should be reviewed. The trade association, whose aim it states is making the UK the best place in the world to do games business, also backed the committee's findings that the sector needs more government support, calling on Westminster to offer economic incentives to gaming in a similar way that it does to British cinema. Monday's publication came on the back of last summer's announcement by the coalition government to scrap tax relief for the games industry a decision TIGA hopes will be reversed. CEO Dr Richard Wilson said, "The UK video games industry is high tech, highly skilled and export oriented. "If the coalition government is serious about its intention of rebalancing the economy then it should invest in the UK video games industry by introducing games tax relief. "This would create jobs, boost investment, power an export focused sector and generate much needed tax revenue for the government." TIGA estimates that tax relief over a five-year period could create or safeguard 9519 direct and indirect UK jobs and could more than pay for itself over the time. The body also predicts that such a move would benefit Scotland directly by creating or safeguarding £28 million in investment over the same period.Start-upAttending the announcement at Abertay University was Chris Wright, CEO of Edinburgh's Games Analytics, a company founded only last year. As a start-up firm Mr Wright was particularly keen to attend the publication of the committee's report and, while pleased at what he heard, he remained adamant Britain's place in the gaming world is in severe jeopardy. He said, "It's a hard market and the games industry is going through massive change. We're going from boxed products to digitally downloaded games and it's the same in the music and film industries. "There are lots of new ideas and opportunities and we're in the middle of that. It's an exciting time for the industry but it needs support. "If we don't watch out we will see the same as has happened in other industries." Although largely supportive of the committee's findings, Mr Wright was another who could not hide his disappointment that no consensus had been reached on the issue of tax relief. However, pleased they had recommended the issue to be put under review, he added his belief financial assistance could make or break some smaller companies. "It's not as far as I'd like to see them go and that's a shame as there was real cross-party support for tax relief and the government pulled it after the election."

Business news

TIGA unveils vision to rapidly grow games sector

February 20 2018

A leading games industry figure based in Dundee has welcomed ambitious goals to rapidly grow the sector in the next five years. TIGA, the trade association representing the UK video games industry, wants the number of games studios to rise from 768 to 1,100 by 2022. It is targeting an increase in games development employment from 13,277 in 2017 to nearly 20,500 in 2022 and the annual investment by games development companies to increase from £670 million to over £1 billion over the same period. The aims have been backed by Paul Durrant, who heads the UK Games Fund, which supports young games companies create working prototypes of their games from its base in Dundee. Mr Durrant said: “TIGA is correct in highlighting the growth potential for the UK’s video games industry. “Our fourth funding round for the UK Games Fund recently attracted over 180 applications from games developers the length and breadth of the UK. “Over 40% of those applications were from start-up companies reflecting the increased studio numbers highlighted in TIGA’s report. “We also believe that skills and talent development is crucial for the sector and our Studiotel proposal for the Tay Cities Deal is intended to put Dundee at the centre of initiatives to grow the UK games development talent base.” TIGA looks to ensure the UK becomes a globally recognised centre for games education and continuous professional development in the sector’s workforce. The body has called on the Government to support their vision by retaining and improving Video Games Tax Relief, the Research and Development Tax Credits and tax incentives for start-ups and small firms. It is also seeking the introducing of a Video Games Investment Fund to provide grants and pound for pound match funding for original IP game projects. Among its other ideas is accrediting UK video games courses, delivering TIGA games industry awards, publishing business guides for best practice and providing data on the industry. TIGA CEO, Dr Richard Wilson said: “Our vision is to make the UK the best place in the world for games development, games education and games service providers.”

UK & World

Gaming industry celebrates tax breaks

March 25 2010

Video games developers in Dundee and across the UK are celebrating after the chancellor announced multi-million pound tax breaks for the industry in the Budget. The surprise announcement is a major victory for campaigners, including The Courier, who have argued for a level playing field for the industry in the face of fierce state-aided overseas competition. In his last Budget before the general election, Alistair Darling announced the computer games sector would be given similar aid to the British film industry, amounting to around £100 million. Last year for the first time the games industry outstripped the film industry, generating more than £1.73 billion against £1 billion spent at the box office plus £198 million on DVD and Blu-ray releases. Details of the proposed tax relief for the game industry, which is subject to state-aid approval in Europe, were not announced in Wednesday's Budget. However, the so-called Red Book, the Financial Statement and Budget Report (FSBR) which accompanies the Budget, shows no provision for tax relief in 2010-11, £40 million in 2011-12, and £50 million in 2012-13. The film-makers can claim a tax rebate of 25% for films costing £20 million or less and with 20% cash back for films costing more than £20 million to make. Last night Scottish secretary Jim Murphy said the chancellor's tax break announcement was a "shot in the arm" for the games industry in Dundee, which supports 700 jobs.Massive returnAlthough the City of Discovery is already recognised as one of the world's leading centres for video game design and development, industry leaders were concerned that its success could be undermined by the tax breaks other countries offer to developers. One of the city's leading firms, Realtime Worlds, which was responsible for the BAFTA-winning game Crackdown and the forth-coming APB, even warned it might have to consider moving part of its operation overseas to stay competitive. Realtime Worlds studio manager Colin MacDonald described the announcement in the Budget as "an unexpected but delightful surprise." "The UK video games industry is one of the most creative and innovative in the world," he said. "This decision will mean we can continue to invest in UK talent and prevent brain drain to our overseas competitors." Mr MacDonald said the tax breaks would allow developers to push the boundaries of computer gaming. He said, "It will make innovation that bit cheaper so we will see more creativity and innovation coming out. "I think the Treasury should see a massive return for its investment." Dr Richard Wilson, chief executive of trade organisation TIGA, said, "This is an inspired decision. "In backing TIGA's games tax relief, the government has chosen the future over the past, growth over decline, success over failure. "Games tax relief will increase employment, investment and innovation in the UK video games sector. "Our research shows that games tax relief over a five-year period should create or protect 3550 graduate-level jobs, increase or safeguard £457 million in development expenditure and encourage developers to adopt new business models and create new intellectual property." He added that UK firms, particularly those in Dundee, would now be competitive in a global market. "We have fantastically well-trained and talented staff and management teams who have, in some cases, 15 to 20 years' experience," he said. "They'll be able to look their competitors in their eye and I think they'll win."Political unityDundee politicians welcomed the announcement. City council development convener Will Dawson said, "Dundee now boasts a considerable reputation in the games industry and the tax incentives should help keep the city in the forefront of the technology and maintain and increase jobs here." Dundee West MP Jim McGovern said, "We are a world leader in games but we need a level playing field. "This gives it to us." Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said, "This is crucial if we are going to compete on a global basis as all games are global. "We need to look at the detail but it is absolutely clear that we won the argument and this is brilliant news." Dr Richard Wilson, chief executive of trade organisation TIGA, said, "This is an inspired decision. "In backing TIGA's games tax relief, the government has chosen the future over the past, growth over decline, success over failure. "Games tax relief will increase employment, investment and innovation in the UK video games sector. "Our research shows that games tax relief over a five-year period should create or protect 3550 graduate-level jobs, increase or safeguard £457 million in development expenditure and encourage developers to adopt new business models and create new intellectual property." He added that UK firms, particularly those in Dundee, would now be competitive in a global market. "We have fantastically well-trained and talented staff and management teams who have, in some cases, 15 to 20 years' experience," he said. "They'll be able to look their competitors in their eye and I think they'll win."Political unityDundee politicians welcomed the announcement. City council development convener Will Dawson said, "Dundee now boasts a considerable reputation in the games industry and the tax incentives should help keep the city in the forefront of the technology and maintain and increase jobs here." Dundee West MP Jim McGovern said, "We are a world leader in games but we need a level playing field. "This gives it to us." Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said, "This is crucial if we are going to compete on a global basis as all games are global. "We need to look at the detail but it is absolutely clear that we won the argument and this is brilliant news." Dr Richard Wilson, chief executive of trade organisation TIGA, said, "This is an inspired decision. "In backing TIGA's games tax relief, the government has chosen the future over the past, growth over decline, success over failure. "Games tax relief will increase employment, investment and innovation in the UK video games sector. "Our research shows that games tax relief over a five-year period should create or protect 3550 graduate-level jobs, increase or safeguard £457 million in development expenditure and encourage developers to adopt new business models and create new intellectual property." He added that UK firms, particularly those in Dundee, would now be competitive in a global market. "We have fantastically well-trained and talented staff and management teams who have, in some cases, 15 to 20 years' experience," he said. "They'll be able to look their competitors in their eye and I think they'll win."Political unityDundee politicians welcomed the announcement. City council development convener Will Dawson said, "Dundee now boasts a considerable reputation in the games industry and the tax incentives should help keep the city in the forefront of the technology and maintain and increase jobs here." Dundee West MP Jim McGovern said, "We are a world leader in games but we need a level playing field. "This gives it to us." Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said, "This is crucial if we are going to compete on a global basis as all games are global. "We need to look at the detail but it is absolutely clear that we won the argument and this is brilliant news."

Business news

Dougy Agnew of Henderson Loggie puts creative-sector tax relief in spotlight

February 2 2015

A recent Government consultation on a new tax relief for orchestral companies is just the latest move to help what may be termed ‘creative’ companies. As Tayside contains a significant number of creative organisations and businesses engaged in, for example, the games sector, the increase in creative-sector tax reliefs is worth looking at in some detail. It all started in April 2013 when the Government introduced tax reliefs for animation and high-end television. At that time it was proposed there would also be a video games tax relief available. However, that relief was delayed due to concerns raised by the European Union and, in particular, the cultural requirements of such a relief. The video games tax relief is now in place, effective from April 1 2014. A final relief was introduced relevant to theatres and productions which is called the theatre tax relief and is effective for expenditure incurred after September 1 2014. These new regimes only apply to companies, so structural changes may be required in order to unlock these. The claims are made within the body of the company tax return, so the quicker the financial accounts are completed, the sooner the claim can be lodged. Therefore, what readers need to know are the main criteria and benefits of these exciting new tax regimes. All the new tax reliefs are derived using the concepts of ‘European Economic Area expenditure’ and ‘core expenditure’, with at least 25% of this expenditure requiring to be consumed in the EEA. The relief works by allowing the company to take an additional deduction, which is capped at a percentage of core expenditure. Two of these regimes, namely the video games and the animation tax relief, require the content to be certified by the British Film Institute (BFI) and pass what is referred to as a points-based cultural ‘test’. Although this is referred to as a test, in our recent video games seminar in Dundee the BFI confirmed it will work with companies to try to help them meet this test. Key to this step is making the application well in advance of any financial and taxation deadlines that may be coming along, as factoring in this application late in the day could have a detrimental impact on obtaining the tax relief. Each regime is quite descriptive as to the nature of expenditure that has to be undertaken in order to obtain the tax relief but, assuming that the right type of expenditure is incurred, a valuable tax benefit will be obtained. For example, in the context of video games tax relief, the relief is available to video games development companies primarily responsible for designing, producing and testing (not de-bugging) the game, but not for advertising, promotion or gambling purposes. The extra tax relief is equal to the lower of the actual EEA expenditure and 80% of the core expenditure incurred. This relief then reduces the tax payable for profitable companies or, in the case of loss-making companies, the enhanced loss can be surrendered back to HM Revenue & Customs for up to a 25% tax repayment. The loss surrendered is capped by reference to the level of qualifying core expenditure. Now, let us turn to the orchestra tax relief that is planned to be effective from April 1 of next year onwards. From a cursory glance of the January 23 consultative document (responses required by March 5), this relief will follow a similar tune. Therefore, provided the right type of company is identified and the correct core type of orchestra-related costs are claimed, there will be the potential for companies to claim a 25% repayable tax credit for touring loss-making companies, or a tax reduction for profitable companies. In a similar manner to theatre tax relief, it is proposed that the rate will drop to 20% for non-touring orchestras. At a time when Tayside is preparing for the cultural benefit of the V&A, the business sector should embrace these creative-sector tax reliefs.

Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Business news

Strong city showing on biggest games stage

April 2 2013

Dundee’s digital media companies have been chasing new business in America as part of a Scottish delegation to the world’s largest games industry event. A total of 32 firms and organisations joined a Scottish Development International trade mission to the four-day Games Developers Conference in San Francisco. It is the longest-running event of its kind in the world and brings together more than 27,000 professionals to discuss issues in the industry, showcase the latest developments and make new deals. Dundee was particularly heavily represented amongst the Scottish presence, with nine city-based development firms including Denki, Tag Games, Cobra Mobile and 4J Studios making the trip, along with representatives from Abertay University and chartered accountants Henderson Loggie. The group had hoped to return to a new tax landscape for the games industry in Britain, but the UK Government’s proposal to offer a new relief has yet to be granted approval by the European Commission. Steve Cartwright, who leads the video games team at Henderson Loggie, was among the delegation which travelled to the US last week. He said it was imperative the proposed games tax relief was given the green light in order to ensure UK-based developers were competing on a level playing field with overseas rivals. Such reliefs have been in place in other countries for a number of years, and their games and mobile app development scene has flourished as a result. “The implementation of this new tax relief will be great news for the games industry in Scotland and Dundee in particular, where there are a significant number of games companies,” said Mr Cartwright. “Countries such as France and Canada where tax reliefs for this sector already exist have seen significant increases in the numbers employed in this growth sector, whereas jobs in Scotland have contracted. “This new tax relief will go a long way to levelling the playing field, and hopefully will get Scotland back to where it was a number of years ago when it punched well above its weight in the games industry globally.” Mandy Cooper of SDI said there was great value to be had for Scottish companies by attending events such as GDC, where they had the opportunity to showcase their products to an audience of globally influential people. She said: “Having so many companies with a variety of products, skills and expertise to showcase what Scotland has to offer has led to a significantly higher level of interest and activity on the Scotland Pavilion stand. “As well as helping our Scottish companies find new global business growth opportunities at GDC, we’re also receiving a number of positive inquiries from businesses looking at Scotland as a potential location for new business,” she added.

Business news

Warning for video games firms with designs on tax break

November 12 2014

The importance of “designing in” features in video games to ensure they qualify for valuable tax breaks may not be fully understood, an expert has warned. Video games the product of an industry making a significant contribution to Dundee’s economy do not automatically qualify for the vital tax relief agreed by the European Commission after a seven-year battle. The same concession is available to film and theatre productions, and allows games makers to claim back 25% of their qualifying production costs. The tax relief reduces the financial risk of producing new games and enables games studios to invest in more staff. Reduced financial risk will also make it easier for games developers who are fresh out of university to start their own companies. There is a qualification process and cultural test for the tax breaks, however, and accountant Steve Cartwright of Henderson Loggie said these measures may not be fully understood. “There is a danger that games makers might produce their games and find out that they don’t qualify for the relief,” said Mr Cartwright of Henderson Loggie’s creative and interactive media team. “Games makers need to be proactive rather than leave it to their accountants or tax planners at the end of the year, as by that time it could be too late. “They need to know about the qualification process and test when they start to produce games. “I am not saying that this should fundamentally shape what they do in designing games. “There may be a few minor tweaks they can make at the outset without affecting their creative input that will get them over the line so that they can claim back 25% of their production costs.” The impact of tax relief on the sector will be greater than previously thought. Research by industry representative body Tiga declared that over the next four years games tax relief in Scotland will create and protect a total of 1,020 direct and indirect jobs. It will also create and protect approximately £49 million investment expenditure by Scottish studios, and generate £48m in new and protected tax receipts to HM Treasury. The Scottish games industry’s GDP contribution will be increased by £65m, and protect an additional £51m GDP contribution. Mr Cartwright and colleague Dougy Agnew will explain the qualification process for the tax breaks and a number of recent practical examples at an event at Abertay University next week for students, new start-up companies and experienced game developers. Professor Louis Natanson, head of arts, media and computer games at Abertay, said: “Video games tax relief is very important for games companies of all sizes, as it helps reduce their operating costs and take some of the risk out of new projects.” The free seminar runs from 5.30-6.30pm on November 20. Tickets must be booked by contacting Fiona Boyle on fcb@hlca.co.uk.

Dundee

Computer games jobs at risk without tax relief Stewart Hosie

January 26 2011

Nearly a quarter of all jobs in Dundee's computer games sector could be lost if the government refuses to introduce tax breaks for the industry, it has been warned. Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie described the prospect of such a huge number of job losses as "frightening and massively disappointing" given the potential of the industry, which is seen as key not just to Dundee's economy but that of the UK as a whole. Although a campaign led by trade organisation TIGA convinced the former Labour government of the worth of introducing tax breaks, the new coalition government abandoned those plans shortly after taking office. However, a new report published by TIGA today says the consequences of failing to introduce some tax relief system for the industry could be devastating. According to their research, games tax relief would create and safeguard more than 1300 new jobs over the next five years and lead to £138 million of new investment in studios. And, as public spending is cut to reduce the deficit, they claim that tax revenues from the games industry fell by £55 million over the past two years but that games tax would lead to an increase in revenues of £128 million. But TIGA warns that without games tax relief, the industry will continue to decline and that nearly a quarter of all jobs (24%) could be lost by 2015. In total, TIGA says games tax relief would cost £194 million but this would create or safeguard 9519 direct and indirect jobs, lead to £431 million investment in development expenditure and bring in £394 million in tax receipts to HM Treasury over the next five years. TIGA also claims that British companies are falling behind international rivals who already benefit from similar schemes.IncentivesIn the US, 20 states now offer incentives to games firms. Chief executive Dr Richard Wilson said, "The UK video games industry is an industry of the future high tech, highly skilled and export oriented. "If the coalition government is serious about its intention of rebalancing the economy then it should invest in the UK video games industry by introducing a tax break for games production. "Games tax relief would create jobs, boost investment and generate much-needed tax revenue for the government. "The coalition government recognises the effectiveness of tax breaks because it already supports the UK film industry with a tax credit. "It should adopt the same successful policy for the video games industry to enable our sector to make a powerful contribution to UK economic growth."InvestChairman Jason Kingsley added, "The global video games market is expected to grow from $52.5 billion in 2009 to $86.8 billion in 2014. "However this growth will happen overseas if we do not invest today. "The UK is exceptionally good at developing video games, but we are not competing on a level playing field." He continued, "Of course the government must tackle the deficit, but it must also have a strategy for growth. "TIGA's games tax relief will support economic growth and tax revenues. "We urge the government to review our evidence and reopen the discussions on games tax relief." Mr Hosie said, "We are only a few short months from the Budget that gives the coalition government the chance to think again about targeted games tax relief and it is something I will be raising in the lead up to it." Photo used under a Creative Commons licence courtesy of Flickr user artwork_rebel.

Dundee

MSP calls for more support for Dundee’s smartphone gaming industry

August 5 2011

Dundee's gaming industry must be given support to capitalise on the boom in smartphone use. New research published by communications regulator Ofcom has revealed more than one-quarter of adults in the UK (27%) and almost half of all teenagers (47%) now own a smartphone, such as an iPhone, Blackberry or Android device. As well as making calls, the phones can also be used to browse the internet and play games. Ofcom's research found that nearly half of all adult users (47%) have downloaded an app while 15% have paid for a game. Tech-savvy teenagers are even more likely to have paid for a downloaded game, with nearly one-third (32%) having paid for at least one. Dundee developers selling apps and games for smartphones are already cashing in on the growing demand. Dundee developer Tag Games has developed iPhone games based on Doctor Who and the recent Coen Brothers movie True Grit. Production manager Mark Williamson said, "It's quite clear that pretty much every device that people use now for their telephones has some kind of connectivity and the ability to play games and apps, so it is a growing market." Mr Williamson said that Tag has developed games for a range of platforms and this expertise will be vital as the smartphone market continues to expand. However, Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said more government support is needed to support the games industry in the city. He said, "With more people using smartphones than ever, Dundee's digital media industry has a real opportunity to tap into this expanding market. "Typically, the investment required to create mobile-based media is significantly lower than for multi-platform console games, which allows ambitious entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in this industry. "However, these small businesses require support from the UK Government to expand and thrive in a competitive international market. "That is why I continue to press the UK Government to introduce a targeted games tax relief like that found in Canada and perhaps soon Ireland too. "This kind of relief already exists for the film industry and it is only right that games developers in Dundee are able to compete on a level playing field with their international competitors who enjoy significant government support."

Readers' letters

September 23: Name new Perth bridge after famous angler

September 23 2010

Today our correspondents suggest a name for a new bridge and discuss tax breaks for the computer game industry, green energy, religion and schools. Name new Perth bridge after famous angler Sir, One of your readers suggested that a bridge over the River Tay at Perth, intended for pedestrians and cyclists, was a waste of money. How very Scottish. The cost of £1.38 million appears a good investment given that Scotland is often seen as the sick man of Europe with high death rates from heart disease and strokes. Anything that enables us to improve our lifestyle by reducing the burden on our health services must be money well spent and the council should be applauded. As concerns a name for this landmark, might I suggest Ballantyne's Bridge after Miss Georgina Ballantyne, who will forever be linked with the river having caught a Tay salmon in 1922 weighing 64lbs - a UK record for a salmon landed by rod and line. Kenneth G. N. Stewart.Landalla,Florence Place,Perth. Throwing good money after bad Sir, I am not sure if Steve Bargeton was being tongue-in-cheek in his recent diary column (September 18) but his opinion on the computer games industry was neatly juxtaposed with an article on the opposite page about the collapse of Dundee firm Realtime Worlds. Your political editor says that providing £40 million of tax breaks per year to the sector would provide the public purse with a net gain of £400 million in tax receipts and create 3500 graduate-level jobs and presumably solve world poverty and reverse global warming at the same time. If only life was that simple. The figures provided sound like typical industry/ political spiel. Meanwhile, back in the real(time) world, your other article quoted an industry expert as saying that the firm's pivotal APB game attracted sales of only one ninth of that necessary for its survival. It seems unlikely that tax breaks would have somehow enhanced the game sufficiently to increase its sales nine-fold. As history has shown time and time again, throwing public funds at fundamentally uncompetitive products and businesses is just taxpayers' money down the drain. Of course, taxpayer-funded assistance and a favourable regulatory environment can help industry in appropriate circumstances but the Scottish political mindset seems dominated by the need to find a deserving home for as much public money as possible - and there's always a queue of willing recipients, whether in the private or public sector. And while the bills for the profligacy have to be paid eventually, both Labour and the SNP seem preoccupied with trying to deny their part in the spending spree, while the Tories and Lib Dems are being accused of threatening the economic recovery by being over-zealous in trying to turn off the tap. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fantasy of green future Sir, The articles covering the views of the MSPs Jim Mather and Murdo Fraser on wind farms (September 20) are yet another reminder of the dangers of expanding onshore wind production in Scotland. Murdo Fraser is correct in pointing out the adverse effects on our landscape and hence tourism but the concept of visual amenity is subjective and personal. What is more objective and less arguable is the cost of installing the infrastructure and the vast amount of subsidies and incentives given to landowners and developers, relative to the amount of dependable electricity actually produced by wind turbines. Jim Mather and the Scottish Government have long known that wind farms are very poor sources of dependable power, frequently producing less than one per cent of UK supply. He and they also know that Scotland only produces around one-fifth of one per cent of the world's carbon emission "problem." As Energy Minister, Jim Mather owes us all an explanation of why he and his colleagues expect consumers to pay high prices to solve a "problem" that scarcely exists, using a system that scarcely works and at prices more and more people will scarcely be able to afford. It is time the fairy tale of wind power was ended. Ron Greer.Armoury House,Blair Atholl. Two-fronted attack on church Sir, Ian Wheeler asks if the threat of Islam is uniting Catholics and Protestants in the fight for survival (September 21). Let us hope so. Islam has powerful non-Muslim players in the field if you count the secular, the atheist and the left-liberal neo-Marxists, all with their own particular reasons for supporting Islam. The average British secularist disputes any religion but more so Christianity. The average militant atheist attacks the Christian God but, when challenged similarly to treat the Islamic God, refrains, claiming all religions are the same. The neo-Marxists are the most dangerous. Their liberal organisations support Islam in its anti-Christian and anti-capitalist stance which makes them useful in the fight to establish a "progressive" society. Andrew Lawson.9 MacLaren Gardens,Dundee. Educational poverty trap Sir, David Robertson's suggestions that the way to improve school performance in Dundee is to have more religion in them is simplistic and laughable. He erroneously states that schools in Scotland which are not Catholic are Christian. Presumably he means Protestant. I have never come across a school in Scotland which describes itself as Protestant. They are non-denominational. The solution to the gap between the children living in poverty and those who are not is a redistribution of wealth. We do not need to scare children into obedience by telling them untruths about eternity in hell. Alan Hinnrichs.2 Gillespie Terrace,Dundee. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.

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