Let’s ensure Government gets full picture of design

We would have alerted you last week to the fact that design is once more attracting attention in high places, with the Treasury again taking a keen interest.

We might have courted your opinions ahead of a Design Summit hosted by Exchequer Secretary Angela Eagle last Thursday on how design can improve efficiency in and bring value for money to the public sector. However, the Design Council, which was involved in organising the event, didn’t tell us until it was over or engage many designers in the meeting.

The cause is admirable. Improvements to public-sector procurement – a cause espoused by Design Council chairman Sir Michael Bichard, among others – would enable design to have a more positive impact on people’s lives, would ensure that the Government is spending public money wisely and would create meaningful work for design groups at a time when it is sorely needed.

But there is a general feeling in the design community that it is being left out of the equation. Design and innovation were represented at 11 Downing Street by eminent, entrepreneurial designer Tom Dixon, with David Bott from the Technology Strategy Board. Prominent business figures were also present. But is this enough to tell the full story?

Consultancies learned a long time ago that it is short-sighted to field teams primarily comprising business folk when making the case to a potential client. Designers often have greater vision and can inspire trust.

The Treasury’s role is huge for design. As Government paymaster, it has the power to influence design-buying across the Civil Service. Its interest in the creative industries is to be welcomed, given that it was intervention by the then Chancellor Gordon Brown that led to the Cox Review of 2005.

Your opinions might not have been courted before last week’s meeting, but we welcome them now. Please e-mail your thoughts on design in Government to me at lyndark@centaur.co.uk and we will pass them on to higher places.

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