Open letter to the new Prime Minister
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
Office of the Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
Dear Prime Minister,
I am writing on behalf of the Creative Industries Federation, the body which represents and convenes the UK’s creators and creative industries, to congratulate you on your appointment.
I would like to take this opportunity to outline briefly how supporting our world-leading creative industries will positively impact the whole of the UK. You have seen firsthand the importance and potential of culture and the creative industries during your terms as Mayor of London, and throughout London 2012 when the UK’s creative forces wowed on the world stage.
As you know, the UK is known across the globe for its creativity. For its world-renowned music, performing arts and successes on screen. For the museums, galleries and heritage sites that each year welcome millions of tourists and locals alike. For the quality of its design and the skill of its craftspeople. For the globally competitive marketing and advertising industries, and for the individuality of world-leading sectors ranging from fashion to architecture to publishing and more.
At this vital time, we urge you to take advantage of the many opportunities to enable even more impressive success and global impact across the UK’s creative industries.
The creative industries are the UK’s fastest growing sector, growing in every region and at twice the rate of the wider economy. In 2017, the sector generated £101.5bn GVA (that’s more than aerospace, automotive, life sciences and oil and gas sectors combined). There are 2 million jobs in the creative industries (and jobs in the sector are growing at three times the UK average), while the creative industries account for more than 5% of the UK’s economy, and almost 12% of all UK businesses. Moreover, 87% of creative jobs are resistant to automation, which means that a creative workforce is one that is both resilient and future-proof. The importance and growth potential of the sector was clearly recognised through the landmark sector deal between government and industry that was announced last year.
The creative industries play a crucial role in the quality of life of every single person living in the UK. In addition to generating economic value, the success of our creative industries unlocks important reputational, health and social benefits. The APPG on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, for example, found that after engaging with the arts, 82% people living in deprived communities in London enjoyed greater wellbeing.
The extent to which public investment in the creative industries underpins this success cannot be overestimated. In addition to enabling work with important intrinsic value, public investment into the UK’s arts and culture delivers social, reputational and economic returns throughout the creative industries and beyond. It has cultivated new ideas, technologies, and cutting edge innovation; fuelled our talent pipeline and job growth in all parts of the UK; and leveraged private and inward investment to bolster British business. Arts Council England has shown that through taxes alone, arts and culture generates £5 for every £1 of public investment while the BFI has demonstrated that in 2016 £632 million in tax relief seeded £3.16 billion in direct production spend across the UK’s screen industries. Without public investment, the remarkable economic success of the UK’s creative industries simply would not be possible.
The creative industries will not maintain their extraordinary level of success if they do not have access to a diverse mix of talented people. Employers and creatives across the sector and beyond are already taking the lead through government-backed initiatives such as the Creative Careers Programme, which will reach more than 2 million young people with better advice on creative careers. However, there are concerns that the devaluing of creative education alongside an immigration system that restricts access to vital international workers will threaten the pipeline of exceptional creative talent which has secured the UK’s creative industries as world-leading.
The sector’s success also relies on the ability to attract the best and brightest talent from all around the world. Specifically, the sector is deeply concerned about the proposed salary threshold, which is far too blunt an instrument to judge the value of highly skilled and talented non-UK workers. More than 80% of our members would face challenges if they were unable to hire such EEA workers on salaries below £30,000. We encourage government to revisit this proposal. Freelancers, who make up a third of workers in the creative industries (compared to an average of 15% across the economy), are vital contributors to our sector’s economic and cultural success, and must also be accommodated under any new immigration system.
Creative education - at all stages and levels - has been vital to the sector’s success and global reach, and creative skills are of significant value across the whole economy. The severe decrease in the number of young people studying creative subjects at school is hugely concerning and will negatively impact both the talent pipeline for the creative industries and also industries like engineering and science that rely on creative skills.
Given the recent publication of the post-18 education funding (Augar) review, we must stress again how vital it is that the value of creative graduates not be measured solely by their earnings. This measure fails to take into account the social, cultural and wider economic contributions they deliver, as well as the fact that many people within the sector actively choose to take roles that do not command huge salaries because of the importance and impact of the work they do.
Alongside many other industries, we will continue to stress the extreme damage that would be caused by a no-deal Brexit. The free movement of goods, services, capital and people have underpinned the sector’s success, and we urge all the leaders of the UK’s political parties to support a second referendum rather than crash out of the EU.
We look forward to working constructively with you to secure the continuing success of our creative industries. We are confident that, with the right support, the opportunities facing the creative industries will positively impact the whole of the UK.