George Osborne’s final budget before the general election covered much ground, from science and innovation to public services. Design Council specifically welcomes the government’s further investment in UKTI as a move to boost UK export.

Our research has found that for every £1 businesses invest in design, they can expect over £20 in increased revenues, over £4 increase in net operating profit and over £5 in increased exports. Our newly developed programme Design for Export enables UK businesses in high-growth sectors to drive up their competitiveness and build stronger relationships in overseas markets, helping to keep UK business ahead of increasingly ambitious international competition.

Research shows designers account for 2% (£7.2bn) of UK exports – a far higher share than their share of employment (0.7%), as well as exports of design services which were £190m in 2012, up from £59m in 2011.

In order to stay competitive, UK businesses must necessarily improve their supply chains.

John Mathers, Chief Executive, Design Council

John Mathers, Design Council Chief Executive, said:

“In order to stay competitive, UK businesses must necessarily improve their supply chains. We have piloted a new programme for supply chain innovation with Rolls-Royce Aerospace, and we plan to roll this out across business in all sectors and increase awareness of design-led approaches to innovation and growth.” 

The Chancellor set out further plans to deliver his vision for a Northern Powerhouse. Northern cities are not reaching their full potential, constrained by insufficient infrastructure and a lack of affordable housing. Our cities programme has demonstrated that a proactive approach to planning can bring forward necessary development to deliver local ambitions and stimulate local growth, creating more successful, prosperous places across the country.

Public service transformation continues to be a key priority for the Chancellor. The UK must reimagine the way its public services are delivered in order to meet requirements and be able to innovate to deliver services into the future. Public sector reform requires new ways of working. Our groundbreaking design-led work in A&E helped the Department of Health reduce violent behaviour by 50 per cent, while a collaborative approach to local delivery of services in Lewisham has saved £486k a year.

We will continue to work with local authorities to provide them with the tools to understand their customers and redesign critical services to deliver more sustainable outcomes.

On Science and Innovation, the Chancellor committed almost £140m to research across the UK and to investing into the Internet of Things. The UK has world-leading science and technology research, yet we spend only 1.8% of GDP on research and development and lag behind our competitors when it comes to commercialisation.

As recognised in the government’s Science and Innovation Strategy in December and expanded upon in our latest research, Innovation by Design, design is one of the most powerful tools we have to commercialise science research. We are working with Innovate UK, the Catapult centres and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) to ensure that our science base benefits from design in order to compete.

Design helps turn innovative ideas into profitable offerings that meet consumer needs and compete on a world stage.

John Mathers, Chief Executive, Design Council

Mathers explained:

“Innovation is the most important driver of long-term prosperity. Our economy must be innovative in order to grow and to make the UK’s economy competitive globally. Design helps turn innovative ideas into profitable offerings that meet consumer needs and compete on a world stage.

Designers and design skills contribute to the wider economy, including high value manufacturing sectors such as automotive and aerospace, providing value and differentiating our products. This summer’s Leading Business by Design Summit will explore and expand on the role design plays in these sectors.”

As a key component of the creative industries, the design sector itself has shown the largest compound annual growth rate over the period 2008-13, growing at an average of 10.8% each year. In addition, the Gross Value Added of the design sector increased from £2.5bn to £3bn between 2012-2013 – an increase of 23.8% – compared with 4.2% of the UK economy as a whole.

A new government must continue to invest in design and innovation. It is of significant value to the UK economy and integral to delivering key government objectives. We will continue to advise government on how design can help to address social and public challenges and drive business innovation.

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