One in five UK creative jobs will be lost as a result of the Covid-19 emergency, says report

The creative industries are projected to be hit twice as hard as the wider economy with a £74 billion revenue drop in 2020.

17 June 2020


A report by Oxford Economics commissioned by the Creative Industries Federation predicts 406,000 creative jobs in the UK could be lost as a result of the Coronavirus emergency, roughly one in five creative jobs in the country. The research predicts a £74 billion drop in revenue for the UK’s creative industries in 2020, around £1.4 billion a week, and a £29 billion drop in GVA – the gross value added to the British economy. The Creative Industries Federation calls it a “cultural catastrophe,” stating the sector is on “the brink of devastation.”

The UK’s creative sector was previously growing at five times the rate of the wider economy, employing over 2 million people and contributing £111.7 billion to the economy – more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences and oil and gas industries combined.

The report, titled The Projected Economic Impact of Covid-19 on the UK Creative Industries, says the creative sector is expected to be hit twice as hard as the wider economy overall, and up to three times as hard regionally. Many creative sub sectors could lose more than half their revenue and over half their workforce.

Despite the Job Retention Scheme, the report projects that 119,000 permanent creative workers will be made redundant by the end of 2020, while 287,000 freelance roles are expected to be terminated by the end of 2020. The Creative Industries Federation puts the job losses into context with mainstream news stories, stating the 406,000 job losses amount to nine times the entire workforce of British Airways, or triple the workforce of Asda in the UK.

London is projected to experience the highest drop in GVA, a £14.6 billion shortfall, and one in six jobs lost. Scotland and the North East will be hit hardest with GVA decreases of 39 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively. Two in five creative jobs in the West Midlands, and a third of jobs in the North West and South West, are expected to be lost.

Film, TV, video, radio and photography could lose £36 billion in revenue (-57 per cent), and 42 per cent of jobs. Postproduction and VFX are projected to lose £827 million (-58 per cent); publishing is expected to lose £7 billion in revenue (-40 per cent), and 26 per cent of jobs. Advertising and market research could see turnover drop by £19 billion (-44 per cent) with 26 per cent of jobs lost, with advertising spend expected to drop by £4 billion in 2020.

Design and designer fashion stands to lose £2 billion in revenue (-58 per cent) and 30 per cent of jobs, though the report states that when “we look at the reach of design across the economy, the risk is far greater,” with a potential GVA drop of £37 billion (-47 per cent) and over 300,000 jobs projecting to be lost.

According to the report, museums and galleries could lose £743 million in revenue (-9 per cent) and 5 per cent of jobs, with impact mitigated by the lockdown easing.

Caroline Norbury, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation said in a statement: “Our creative industries have been one of the UK’s biggest success stories but what today’s report makes clear is that, without additional government support, we are heading for a cultural catastrophe. If nothing is done, thousands of world-leading creative businesses are set to close their doors, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be lost and billions will be lost to our economy. The repercussions would have a devastating and irreversible effect on our country. 

“We urgently need a Cultural Renewal Fund for those in the creative sector who will be hit hardest, including those industries who will be latest to return to work, those businesses unable to operate fully whilst maintaining social distancing and those creative professionals who continue to fall through the gaps of government support measures. We must also avoid a cliff-edge on vital measures such as the Job Retention Scheme and the Self Employed Income Support Scheme, which have been a financial lifeline for many parts of the creative industries and cannot be cut off overnight.   

“It is time to both imagine and engineer our future. We will need our creative industries to do that. They are too important to ignore.”

This report follows the Federation’s open letter to the UK government in April calling for urgent financial help for the creative sector, signed by over 500 leading names including Jeremy Deller and PJ Harvey.

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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