Government’s belief in design survives stringent public sector cuts

We expect few surprises for design in the Government’s spending review when it is announced today.

Much has already been revealed through Lord Browne’s Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance and the Public Bodies Reform document, both published last week. So it’s not so much where Government cuts will fall as how big they will be – though it could take a while to extrapolate exact sums from Chancellor George Osborne’s statement.

The impact is likely to be colossal for many sectors. Architects, for example, are hunkering down for a tough time as public sector work dries up. And designers in the public arena need to find new markets, possibly through overseas projects.

But we can take some comfort from the fact that the Government is keeping faith with design as a driver of innovation – still a Whitehall buzzword. The findings of Martin Temple’s review into the Design Council have been heeded and though the council becomes a fully fledged charity, it will retain its role as a special adviser to Government and its key functions.

As chief executive David Kester says, it’s not so much the ’what’ as ’how’ the Design Council will operate in future. It will be leaner – no bad thing – and receive less public funding, which could force its arm commercially and therefore bridge a historic gap between it and the creative community. It will also be allied to Nesta, sharing a ’back office’ with the innovation promoter.

Casualties will result from Temple’s review, but one of the more significant moves for design is unrelated. David Godber’s departure to join a Danish renewable energy manufacturer is a big loss to UK design – though his influence will live on at the council through design head Mat Hunter and others (18 October, www.designweek.co.uk). His new job raises the bar slightly for global sustainability, though, which can only be a benefit.

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