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Creative industries’ contribution to UK growth under threat

Nasreen Memon

13 December 2010

A new report by The Work Foundation published tomorrow (Tuesday 14 December 2010) highlights the risk that the maximum potential economic benefits of the UK’s creative industries will be lost, despite early promises from the Coalition Government.

'There has been widespread acknowledgement that the creative industries are central to the UK’s economic recovery from the recession. Their success will be a key source of competitive advantage to the UK through to 2020 and beyond. The government’s earlier promises have led to some excellent initiatives – many championed in 2009's 'Creative Britain' strategy, but much more needs to be done if the UK is not to miss out on a desperately needed boost to the economy,' said report co-author Dr Benjamin Reid.

Looking at the effect of major long- and short-term trends on the creative industries’ ability to assist the UK recovery, the report demonstrates how, despite unrivalled economic performance and their rightly-celebrated strengths, the UK creative industries are now under threat from a combination of recession-induced cuts, the global trends towards convergence and digitalisation, and concrete action from other governments to maximise the recovery-boosting economic potential of their own creative industries. The report calls for:

  • Greater attention to be paid to the eroding competitive position of the UK’s creative industries in relation to international competition
  • Increased government support for investment in creative industries research and technology innovation 
  • Consistent messages and policy from government regarding its support of the UK creative industries as a growth sector 

Executive vice chair Will Hutton said, 'Despite the world-leading position of the UK’s creative industries just a few years ago, resting on our laurels is not an option. Without urgent action in these three areas, the Coalition Government will fail to achieve the considerable potential the creative industries have as a key growth sector which could lead the UK out of recession. Without urgent action, international competitors will be fast to catch up – particularly the technology-savvy economies in Asia which haven't experienced recession.'

Dr Reid added: 'We welcome the Coalition Government’s inclusion of the creative industries as a key growth area for the future in the recently announced BIS/HMT Growth Review. But the industry, investors and those who could be described as potential talent are currently receiving mixed messages from the government. Despite the high-profile inclusion of creative industries in government strategies, the missed opportunity to announce a ‘copyright box’ alongside the ‘patent box’ in tax policy, the uncertain impact of the Browne Review on arts education, and an apparent focus on STEM subjects, all suggest the government needs more consistency in promoting the creative industries as a central part of the UK’s knowledge economy.'


Notes to editors

A Creative Block? The Future of the UK Creative Industries by Dr Benjamin Reid, Alex Albert and Laurence Hopkins can be found at on publication. Advance media copies available.

Author Dr Reid and executive vice chair Will Hutton are available for interviews and briefings.  

This report is produced as part of The Work Foundation’s Knowledge Economy and Creative Industries programmes.

The Knowledge Economy programme is sponsored by BAE Systems, British Council, Design Council, EDF Energy, IPA, Microsoft, NESTA, Rolls Royce and Technology Strategy Board. The Creative Industries programme is sponsored by The Advertising Association, Channel 4 and ITV.

The Work Foundation is the leading independent authority on work and its future. It aims to improve the quality of working life and the effectiveness of organisations by equipping leaders, policymakers and opinion-formers with evidence, advice, new thinking and networks.