“We must invest in creativity” – new data reveals that Creative Industries are a catalyst for post-pandemic recovery, able to create 300,000 new jobs and generate an extra £28bn for the economy by 2025

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  •  New data, released by the Creative UK Group, reveals that with a 20% increase in spend and investment, the Creative Industries can generate enough new jobs to employ the working-age populations of Hartlepool and Middlesbrough twice over.
  • New supply chain analysis from Oxford Economics reveals that prior to the pandemic, the Creative Industries directly supported more than 1 in 10 UK jobs.
  • But with the impact of Covid-19 costing the Creative Industries £12 billion in GVA and more than 110,000 jobs, government must act now to avoid deep divisions, with key parts of the UK at risk of being left behind.

Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, which together comprise the non-profit Creative UK Group, have today published new data showing the impact of the pandemic on the Creative Industries and crucially, what can be unlocked with the right investment.

Their report The UK Creative Industries: unleashing the power and potential of creativity features newly commissioned data from Oxford Economics, which projects that, with the right investment, the sector could recover faster than the UK economy as a whole, growing by over 26% by 2025 and contributing £132.1 billion to the economy in GVA – over £28 billion more than in 2020, and more than the financial services, insurance and pension industries combined. Not only a major driver of economic growth, the data reveals that by 2025 the Creative Industries could create 300,000 new jobs, bouncing back from the impact of Covid-19 and surpassing pre-pandemic employment levels: generating enough new jobs to employ the working-age population of Hartlepool and Middlesbrough twice over.

“This has huge ramifications for the UK,” said Creative UK Group CEO, Caroline Norbury MBE, “because the Creative Industries don’t just make themselves money, they support whole swathes of the UK economy. The government’s levelling up agenda cannot succeed without creativity.”

The new data substantiates this, with figures showing that in addition to the 2.1 million jobs that existed in the Creative Industries prior to the pandemic, a further 1.4 million roles were directly supported by the sector through its supply chains: those businesses who supply goods or services to the creative sector. This makes a combined total of 3.5 million, or more than 1 in 10 UK jobs. This figure does not include creative jobs in other industries – e.g. designers for cars and phones – meaning that the true impact of the creative economy is set to be much larger still.

The new data also reveals that the Creative Industries are an even bigger driver of economic growth than previous figures suggested. Oxford Economics estimates that for every £1 the Creative Industries contributed prior to the pandemic, an extra 50p was generated in the wider economy through their supply chains. This makes a combined economic contribution of £178 billion. This is without accounting for the many industries that significantly benefit from the Creative Industries such as Tourism and Hospitality.

Caroline Norbury MBE, CEO, Creative UK Group, said:

The past decade has seen the Creative Industries achieve remarkable growth and success with the sector’s vast power to grow wealth and employment extending throughout local communities across the whole of the UK.

With ambitious investment, the creative sector can rebuild faster than the UK economy and make a major contribution to the country’s post-pandemic recovery. We are money makers, job creators, innovators and problem solvers. We can reshape this country’s future for the better, but to realise our ambitions for tomorrow, we must invest in creativity today.

We are not asking for handouts. We are asking for meaningful, targeted investment in creative ideas, creative industries and creative skills, that can unlock the incredible potential of the creative sector to kickstart our country’s recovery, and that will be repaid many times over.

It is critical that we seize this opportunity to unlock the UK’s incredible creative potential, and avoid leaving key parts of our sector – and our country – behind.

On the impact of Covid-19, the new figures reveal that key targeted UK, devolved and local government support measures, including the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, have been enormously instrumental in preventing the 400,000 job losses that the Creative Industries Federation warned of in June 2020. The resilience of the sector has also been hugely impactful, with many creative businesses adapting their business models and finding new, innovative ways to engage with audiences and consumers. However, certain parts of the creative sector have still been hit disproportionately hard and without investment, risk being left behind.

In total, the Creative Industries are now estimated to have lost nearly £12 billion in GVA, with job losses expected to reach over 110,000 by the end of the year. Freelancers have been hit more than five times as hard as those on payroll, with 95,000 of the job losses projected to be freelance compared to 18,000 payroll employees. Creative subsectors reliant on footfall and audiences, such as Museums and Performing Arts, have been hit hardest, whilst the Creative Industries in the North East and Wales are projected to be slowest to return to pre-pandemic levels. This is deeply concerning as these parts of the creative sector are the ones that have the biggest impact on the wider economy through their supply chains.

To accompany the report, the Creative UK Group have launched the #WeAreCreative campaign, encouraging creative people and businesses to show their power and potential to MPs and government officials on social media.

Key statistics:

  • Oxford Economics estimates that the Creative Industries could create 300,000 new jobs and generate £132.1 billion in GVA by 2025, if spend and investment is increased by 20% on 2019 levels.
  • The impact of greater investment in the Creative Industries is likely to be felt far beyond the sector, with new modelling from Oxford Economics estimating that prior to the pandemic the Creative Industries supported an additional 1.4 million jobs and £62.1 billion in GVA through its UK supply chains.
  • The combined economic footprint of the sector is found to have been £178 billion in GVA in 2019, with a total of 3.5 million jobs reliant on the Creative Industries – more than 1 in 10 UK jobs and four times the workforce of the five largest UK supermarkets combined.
  • However, the Creative Industries are estimated to have lost £12 billion in GVA as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, dropping from £115.9 billion in 2019 to £104.1 billion in 2020 – well below the £122 billion in GVA the sector was projected to generate by the end of 2020, had the pandemic not materialised.
  • Job losses are also projected to continue in 2021, with employment in the Creative Industries falling below 2 million for the first time since 2016: 112,700 roles are projected to be lost, including 94,800 freelance roles terminated and 17,900 payroll contracts.
  • Creative subsectors reliant on audiences and footfall are found to have been hardest hit during the pandemic, with the Museums, Galleries & Libraries and Music, Performing & Visual Arts subsectors experiencing the most significant losses.
  • This is extremely worrying as Oxford Economics’ modelling finds that prior to the pandemic, for every £1 in GVA directly contributed by Museums, Galleries & Libraries, an additional £4.40 was generated elsewhere in the wider economy.
  • The Creative Industries in Wales and the North East are estimated to have suffered the most significant impacts from Covid-19. Without increased investment, employment in Wales is not projected to return to its pre pandemic level before 2025, while the North East is projected to experience the slowest growth of any region. This is alarming as, prior to the pandemic, the Creative Industries in these areas were responsible for the largest supply chain impacts, generating an additional £2.50 in the wider local economy for every £1 they directly contributed.


Sir Lenny Henry, said:

“The global impact of the UK’s Creative Industries is unquestionable. People are sometimes surprised when I talk about the lengths my production company Douglas Road Productions goes to, to ensure that projects are properly funded. We work closely with support bodies to ensure that our projects are properly resourced through tax credits and financial aid, leaving us to get on with making the very best shows we possibly can. The collaboration on our latest film ‘My Name is Leon’ is testament to this.”


Jo Johnson, former Minister of State and Chair of Access Creative College, said:

“The success of Brand Britain overseas is crucially intertwined with the global recognition of the UK’s creative dynamism. Across the entire economy, businesses are innovating, problem solving and generating value for our economy by fostering creativity and creative skills. This hasn’t gone unmissed by governments overseas. Our capacity to think creatively, bolstered through our renowned educational institutions, is our best soft power tool on the world stage.”


Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“In the rapidly changing world of work, creative skills are in increasing demand from employers, including in engineering industries. Endowing young people with the confidence and knowhow to create, innovate and collaborate is one of the best investments we can make in the next generation.”


Lisa Burger, Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive, National Theatre, said:

“I welcome this report from the Creative UK Group, it clearly demonstrates the strength of the creative sector and the huge economic and social benefits the arts bring to the nation in terms of community, creativity and contribution to the country’s economy. In addition to creating and safeguarding much needed jobs, any investment protects the talent pipeline ensuring emerging artists can flourish in our world-class creative sector.”


Tim Marlow OBE, Chief Executive and Director, Design Museum, said:

“The creative industries have been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic. They are also central to our recovery. The creative industries – and design in particular – have the capacity to change behaviour, bring people together, empower communities and transform individual experience.

The UK is world renowned for its creative industries, which in turn make it an attractive place to live, work and invest. Human creativity, unlike so many of our natural resources, is limitless – so it makes sense to invest in its potential to transform lives, level up and build sustainable and inspiring futures for many.”


Karen Blackett, WPP UK Country Manager and GroupM UK CEO, said:

“Our Creative Industries play an important role in contributing to the growth of the UK economy by creating jobs and prosperity for people and communities in every part of the country. Through investment, we can ensure that our world-leading creative sector is powered by people from every walk of life.”


The full report is available to download from: www.wearecreative.uk

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