The spotlight is on the Chancellor this week to announce an ambitious package of reforms to deliver the Creative Industries Sector Vision – the government’s plan to grow the creative industries by £50bn and support a million more jobs by 2030. Crucially, it is an opportunity to set the scene for the UK to thrive as a global leader in creative enterprises.
The evidence is unequivocal: the cultural and creative industries are a national and international success story, nothing short of an economic powerhouse. The sector has been growing at four times the rate of the UK economy and creating jobs at three times the UK average.
By 2025, with the right investment and support, our creative industries could contribute £132bn in GVA– more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined – and is set to create 300,000 jobs, enough to employ the working-age population of Hartlepool and Middlesbrough twice over.
Since 2017, Creative UK has been a key investor in the sector and a champion for wider investment and support, investing c£12m in early-stage creative enterprises. This investment has created jobs, supported growth and catalysed innovation. But this is a tiny drop in a vast ocean of opportunity.
Make no mistake, despite our sector’s successes, it is under-capitalised. There is a need for early-stage equity investment to support innovation and R&D. The Chancellor’s job this week is more straightforward than ever. If he is serious about growth he should continue to prioritise and invest in the creative industries, beyond the £77m of extra funding investment previously promised.
He should also deliver five changes to taxes and spending:
1. Ensuring current tax reliefs (integral to facilitating growth and inward investment throughout our sector) continue, expand and are further optimised.
2. Broadening the eligibility of R&D tax reliefs to include arts, humanities and social sciences research.
3. Assuring that the £270m ‘arts premium’ promised in the Conservative Party Manifesto is delivered to facilitate a much-needed boost to music and sports and provide pathways into creative careers.
4. Establishing a capital fund to refurbish historic buildings and institutions affected by RAAC (Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) and to improve energy efficiency in historic buildings.
5. Introducing fairer tax deductions for SMEs and micro businesses, including for freelancers and self-employed, key demographics of our industry.
Beyond this, as the Chancellor mulls over the budget – and as the UK prepares for a general election in the coming year or so – I urge any future government to ensure artistic and cultural creativity is embraced socially, politically and economically and to invest in the ability to create sustainable jobs, positive impact, prosperous enterprises and social cohesion.
The ambition is not only to enrich the lives and livelihoods of those with creative ideas but to cement the UK as a global leader. Perhaps we could soon see an FTSE 100 populated by creative businesses?
In the context of high inflation, the Chancellor is unlikely to stray far from fiscal conservativism. But through close partnerships with government and ambitious and radical programmes of policy reform, what currently is a sector vision could become a national reality.
Caroline Norbury OBE is Chief Executive of Creative UK.