You can count on the creative industries (or what happened to the missing £24bn)

December is the month the busy statisticians in the DCMS release their latest estimates of the size and shape of the UK’s creative industries (CI).  Very useful stuff for policy wonks and arts anoraks like yours truly.  Sadly for those of us doomed to wrestle with SIC and SOC codes, making year-on-year comparisons of  what’s up, what’s down and where is doing better or worse than where else isn’t exactly made easy by the near constant revising of definitions, multipliers, scaling factors and the like.  (To be fair the DCMS do point out that these are experimental stats and they change them in response to feedback from users and in order to make them more fit for purpose, and quite right too).

Less anyone imagines these are just minor technical tweaks  it is worth noting that as a result of the latest changes to the methodology the reported Gross Value Added (GVA) of the UK’s creative industries has plummeted by nearly 50% from £59bn (5.6% of the total) in 2008 to £36bn (2.89%) in 2009!

What this in fact means is that if the current methodology is taken as accurate, the previous statistics were grossly exaggerating the real value of the Creative Industries but we can breathe a sigh of relief as the new figures can be relied on ‘going forwards’.

One of the biggest (and long overdue) revisions concerns the value of software and games which at £26.4bn (46% of the CI total) on the ‘old’ system dwarfed every other sector.  In the new figures, which have stripped out a swathe of ‘non creative’ software consultancy and the like, a more realistic figure of £160m for ‘Digital & entertainment Media’ and £570m for ‘Software and Electronic Publishing’ puts the combined total at 2% of the CI.

So which is UK’s biggest Creative Industry?  Well it may surprise some people to learn that it is Publishing, worth £11.6bn GVA in 2008 and accounting for a third of all CI GVA and almost the same proportion of exports at £2.6bn (in 2009). Advertising comes second at £7bn in 2008 but dropped to £6bn in 2009 as the recession took hold while TV & Radio are in third place at around £5bn.

 

What about Scotland?  Well the full range of data isn’t yet available but a few figures provide some clues as to what may be happening.  Scanning the regional breakdown of registered enterprises (NB this excludes a lot of sole traders) Scotland’s 4,800 creative businesses in 2011, 4.5% of the UK total, have pretty much held steady since 2009.  However there is significant variance by sub-sector with, for example, ‘digital media’ increasing by 100% and advertising by 11% while publishing was down 13% and software down 17%.  However these changes can be misleading: an increase in the number of businesses can mean a lot of new start-ups following the closure of a major employer.  Until we see the Scottish breakdown of turnover and GVA we won’t know.

Closer to home the statistical elves are working away on the past ten years of Lottery and other investment in Scotland’s screen sector and we will be analysing that in the New Year.  Happy Solstice!

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