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Creative Industries

Volume 768: debated on Monday 8 February 2016


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to nurture and support the creative industries to ensure their continuing success.

My Lords, the latest statistics, released in January, show the creative industries going from strength to strength, with growth of almost 9% in 2014, nearly double that for the UK economy as a whole. The core sector was worth more than £84 billion in 2014—just over 5% of the UK economy. The Government support the UK creative industries in a number of ways, through direct and indirect funding, infrastructure provision, facilitation, advocacy and the production of statistics.

I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer and for the information about how active the industry is and how it is one of the best industries in the country. I declare an interest: my daughter is a music teacher. However, given the role that the industry plays, there is a fear that if music—which is one of the bases of the creative industry—and art are not part of the compulsory bacc, many schools would choose not to teach them and, therefore, the industry would not be able to continue to play the part it has played in the economy. Would the Government consider including both music and creative art in the EBacc?

My Lords, the noble Baroness draws attention to music in education, in particular in the EBacc. Young people should have the opportunity to study art subjects alongside the strong academic core curriculum, including the EBacc. Music is a compulsory subject within the national curriculum for five to 14 year-olds. All pupils in maintained schools will therefore study music for a minimum of nine years.

My Lords, I share the concerns of the noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, about EBacc. However, turning to another aspect of the creative industries, does the Minister agree that Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide make a major contribution to the creative industries, both here and abroad? Will he commit the Government to supporting and protecting Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide, subject to their current arrangements, so that they can continue to deliver those benefits?

My Lords, as ever, the noble Lord makes an important point relating to overseas, the BBC and Channel 4. I know he is aware that the charter review is in progress at the moment and many representations have been made. I also know that there was a Question last week on Channel 4, which was answered by my noble friend.

My Lords, on the Answer given by the noble Earl to the noble Baroness, Lady Afshar, it is true that the creative industries are doing very well just now. However, she made a serious point about whether they will do so in the future. Does he agree that the problem about them not being included in the EBacc is that there is a systematic erosion of their status in education and that, over time, the implication grows that they are not important and will not lead to good jobs? This is fundamentally untrue and unhelpful. Will he talk to his colleagues in the Department for Education to see whether that can be changed?

My Lords, the DCMS and the Department for Education liaise on all these matters, particularly in relation to music. I should add that, between 2012 and 2016, the Department for Education invested £246 million in a network of music education hubs. These hubs have a number of roles, including ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument.

Does the Minister agree that there cannot be much wrong with the creative industries in the United Kingdom if they can produce anything that will be missed as much as “War and Peace” on the BBC over the past few weeks? I am mourning it already—I do not know what I am going to do with Sunday nights. The growth of the creative industries in this country through the recession and so on is a testimony to successive Governments’ policies in respect of the creative industries. Does the Minister agree that the best thing the Government can do is to leave well alone?

I hope my noble friend finds something to do on Sunday afternoons. Apart from that, I agree with him entirely.

My Lords, does the noble Earl accept that the creative industries make a massive economic contribution to these islands? The cuts that may be affecting them may emanate from local government, but the benefit of the economic input does not come to local government. Can central government find some way of ensuring that we do not lose out on the creative arts and the economic benefit that they bring to these islands?

My Lords, I do not agree with the noble Lord that we are losing out on creative arts, but I can tell him about examples of our funding, such as creative content tax relief. The noble Lord is no doubt aware of that. BIS, DCMS and UKTI offer access to finance, skills and export funding programmes. Then there is funding via arm’s-length bodies and other organisations, such as the British Film Institute, Arts Council England and Innovate UK.

My Lords, the Enterprise Bill introduces an apprenticeship levy and the Government have said that they recognise the need to discuss with the creative industries how to increase their apprenticeship levels without destroying the four voluntary levies currently run very successfully by Creative Skillset. What progress is being made on these discussions? Will the Minister reassure the industry that it is the Government’s intention to ensure that the apprenticeship levy is aligned with the current voluntary levies so as to protect the skills investment fund?

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, asked about the apprenticeship levy in relation to this department. The levy will put apprenticeship funding in the hands of employers, encouraging them to invest in their apprentices and take on more. It will be collected by HMRC at a rate of 0.5% of an employer’s pay bill via monthly pay. In addition, the noble Lord mentioned the SIF, which is another way in which we have been developing training throughout the United Kingdom.