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Inquiry into the future of UK's creative industries calls for government to place sector at the heart of its growth agenda and fix 'incoherent' policies.

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A lack of government focus and absence of joined-up thinking risks undermining the UK’s creative industries in the face of increased international competition and rapid technological change, peers have warned.

A report published today by the House of Lords Communications Committe, which has been holding an inquiry on the subject, says that the UK’s creative industries should sit at the heart of its economic growth plans. 

But it concludes that there have been missed opportunities to support the sector and a failure among senior government figures to recognise its commercial potential.


The report, titled At risk: our creative future, calls on government to unlock the sector’s potential by fixing policies “characterised by incoherence and barriers to success”.

"The sector has benefited from some government attention in recent years," the report states. 

"Tax reliefs, investment programmes, skills initiatives and pandemic recovery funds have all been widely praised.

"But the government’s current approach is complacent and risks jeopardising the sector’s commercial potential. Indeed, the creative industries scarcely featured in the 2022 Autumn Statement and were not included in the government’s five priorities for growth. 

"This lack of focus risks affecting the UK’s future prosperity, especially at a time of rising international competition in the sector and domestic economic challenges."

The report sets out a number of steps government should take now to address immediate challenges. Tax policy should be improved to boost innovation, and controversial proposals from the Intellectual Property Office to change text and data mining regulations should be paused immediately.

Focus on skills

There should also be a cross-government focus on skills shortages in the creative industries, with the Department for Education encouraging students to learn a blend of creative and digital skills, improving careers guidance, reversing the decline in children studying design and technology, and changing "lazy rhetoric" about "low value" arts courses.

It also calls for UK Research and Innovation, the government funding agency that invests in science and research, to identify options to continue the most successful parts of the Creative Clusters Programme after March 2023 when funding ends. 

It said discontinuing support would be a "needless waste" of a programme that is exceeding co-investment expectations by 600 per cent.

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, Chair of the Committee, said the UK's creative industries are an economic powerhouse and have been a huge success story, but the fundamentals that underpin that success are changing, and rivals are catching up. 

"The government’s failure to grasp both the opportunities and risks is baffling," she said.

“International competitors are championing their creative industries and seizing the opportunities of new technology. But in the UK we’re seeing muddled policies, barriers to success, and indifference to the sector’s potential. 

"We acknowledge the government has introduced important programmes in recent years, but we are concerned past success has bred complacency."

Vital investment

Caroline Norbury, Chief Executive of Creative UK, said the creative sector has long outperformed the wider economy and other industries in driving economic growth and job creation.

"Yet as the committee’s report finds, there has been a failure to recognise and capitalise on this potential," she said.

"Continuing to think of UK creativity as a ‘nice-to-have’, subsidised by the taxpayer, will blunt the sector’s capacity to transform our society for the better. 

"Financial support for the Creative Industries is not a costly public burden, on the contrary, it is a vital investment to unleash economic growth, accelerate innovation, underpin the UK’s global soft power, and provide social and wellbeing benefits to communities across the country."

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said the committee's findings reflect the evidence heard by the LGA’s Commission on Culture and Local Government conducted last year, which also called for continued investment in the successful Creative Clusters programme.

“The creative industries are an important driver of local economies: prior to the pandemic, they accounted for 2.2 million jobs, geographically dispersed in more than 700 micro clusters across the UK," he said.

“To support councils to maximise the potential of the creative sector, we need a joined up, devolved approach to skills, that recognises the value of cultural and creativity at every level of the education system. 

"Councils can play an important role in diversifying access to creative careers and we support the report’s calls for a cross-government focus on addressing skills shortages in the sector.”