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Design Council CEO John Mathers on the 2014 Budget

Design Council CEO John Mathers on the 2014 Budget

19 March 2014 Written by By John Mathers Chief Executive, Design Council, 2012-2016

Following the announcement of the 2014 Budget Design Council’s Chief Executive John Mathers highlights where design can make a difference to priority areas.

Innovation-led growth and export

Today’s Budget placed a strong emphasis on export, the UK’s industrial strategy and our world-class creative industries. The design sector has a huge contribution to make to exports and we must act to ensure that we capitalise on this. 

Government should support design export by identifying the key markets and networks to export UK design capabilities and targeting strong clusters at home, both in the creative industries and sectors such as automotive and aerospace. The UK design sector is an important exporter and a lever for businesses in the wider economy. Design accounted for £131m of services exported in 2011 (up from £122m in 2010) and businesses which use design strategically can expect a return of over £5 in increased exports for every £1 invested in design

Similarly, design fits in across the UK's Industrial Strategy. Design Council is working with a wide range of industry partners, including UKTI, on the industrial vision for the creative industries. Design should be used as an enabler to meet the priorities of the other 11 industrial strategy sectors. Our work has shown how design can be applied to supply chain innovation and science commercialisation, research has shown that for every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues.

The strength of the UK creative industries is vital and growing - support for this sector needs to target high value industries as well as the creative ecosystem. Design provides a vital underpinning skillset in the creative industries - it had the largest percentage increase in employment of 16% between 2011-12 of all creative industries groups and the largest annual average increase in GVA: 8% across 2008-12 (DCMS).

Public services designed around people 

With reduced government spending - design work can save money and creates services around real people and their needs. To achieve sound public finances and services government needs bravery in embedding innovation approaches at the strategic and delivery level, rather than innovating at the margins. 

Impacts of using design are significant; following Design Council work in A&E, threatening body language and aggressive behaviour fell by 50% and for every £1 spent on the design solutions, £3 was generated in benefits. 

Housing – quality delivering quantity

The Chancellor announced new measures to ‘get Britain building’ and deliver decent, affordable homes including a new Garden City. High quality, well-designed schemes are critical to delivering the quantity of homes needed.

Our research has demonstrated that good quality housing schemes deliver more homes on site thereby enhancing the scheme’s viability. The quality of new homes also matters to communities with 73% of people saying they would support the building of more homes if well-designed and in keeping with the local area (NHPAU, 2010). 

Garden Cities offer one solution to help resolve the housing crisis but this option needs to be considered alongside broader strategic urban design principles. We will continue to work with government to ensure the new Garden Cities Prospectus benefits from the latest best practice to deliver better quality homes and neighbourhoods through large scale urban extensions.

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