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UK’s creative industries: the under-sold growth story of our economy

Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, Industry Co-Chair of the CIC & VP EMEA, Facebook | Creative Industries Council

4 min read Partner content

Co-Chair of the Creative Industries Council (CIC) writes about the work of the Council and the Government to boost this growing sector and maximise its commercial success.

More than 90% of MPs polled in a new survey agree that the UK creative industries are vitally important to the future of the UK’s economy, job creation and positive perceptions of Brand Britain.  And it is easy to see why.

Our creative industries - which range from advertising to architecture, games, crafts to createch, music to museums - are one of the under-sold growth stories of the UK economy. 

These industries already account for more than £87bn a year of Gross Value Added, are growing at three times the UK average, and create jobs four times faster than the rest of the economy.  

Almost 2m in the UK work in the creative industries, with the total number of creative jobs in the wider economy reaching 3.04m.

And at a time when the role of international trade in the UK’s post-Brexit future is rarely out of the headlines, it is good to be reminded that the UK generated £35.9bn in combined exports of creative services and goods in 2015. 

That is before factoring in the benefits to the UK’s global reputation and influence from being the source of so many internationally renowned broadcasters, publishers, designers, performers, and creative talent of all stripes.

No wonder, then, that the new survey commissioned from Dods Research* by the industry members of the Creative Industries Council (CIC), has found a rare and increasing consensus among MPs to prioritise the creative industries on their own political parties’ agendas.  It will be presented at a Parliamentary event hosted by the industry members of the CIC, a joint forum between Government and the private sector.

In the research, 75% of MPs also agreed that creative industries should be high on their party’s agenda, up from 61% in the comparable survey in 2014.

There was also widespread agreement about the importance of the creative industries to the future growth of the UK’s main cities. This growth contribution was deemed to be important in London (95% of MPs agreed), Edinburgh (94%), Manchester (93%) and Liverpool (90%).

On the impact of Brexit itself, our survey found MPs as divided as the rest of the country, with 46% believing it will be positive for creative sectors, compared to 45% predicting a negative impact.

However, there is much more agreement on the areas in which the UK could build on the success of its creative enterprises.

Ensuring people’s skills equip them for a future in which technology increasingly enables creativity and vice versa is a priority cited by MPs.

So is the need to develop the UK’s broadband infrastructure to ensure all parts of the UK and all sizes of creative outfits can benefit from the increased productivity and innovation that fast connections can unleash.

And although Britain’s creative workforce is found in all regions, there are clear geographical clusters where talent pools and economies of scale have combined to drive the growth of creative industries.

The CIC has long championed the potential of creative clusters, and we welcomed the recent recommendations of the independent, Government-commissioned Bazalgette review in this area. It is good to see that the surveyed MPs also recognised the vital role such clusters can play in maximising the economic potential of creative organisations.

Finally, although some UK creative enterprises are global players, the vast majority of our creative organisations are small outfits run by founder entrepreneurs.  Access to help in starting and growing creative businesses can ensure these enterprises reach their full potential.

In all four of the above areas our survey found majorities of support among MPs, ranging from 79% for prioritising skills and 75% broadband to 64% on clusters and 62% on help for starting and growing businesses.

These areas have also been identified by industry leaders on the CIC as essential to the future growth of UK creative industries. The CIC is working in partnership with Government to develop innovative ways to put this consensus into action and realise the full potential of the UK’s creative industries both in the UK and globally.

Britain’s creative businesses have always inspired by provide our nation’s creative stories. It is now clear they also have an inspiring story of entrepreneurship and commercial success we can all share. 

Nicola Mendelsohn CBE is Industry Co-Chair of the CIC and VP EMEA, Facebook.

(*The Dods research was based on 50 MPs surveyed between June and August 2017)

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