Labour and Tories pursue design votes

The Labour Party has made a pledge to ‘raise awareness’ of design for small businesses and to ‘develop’ a system of ‘creative apprenticeships’, if it is elected to a third term of Government this week.

The pledges were published last week in the party’s business manifesto, ahead of tomorrow’s General Election.

However, a lack of further detail on the two proposals is likely to beg further questions from design organisations. For instance, it is not clear which specific skill gaps Labour is looking to fill with its creative apprenticeships, when it refers to ‘skill shortages in the creative industries, including computer graphic design’.

The creative industries are flagged up as having growing economic weight in the business manifesto, which states, ‘The quality of design is an increasingly important driver of innovation – not as an add-on, but as an integral factor in creating products and services that excite customers.’

Labour says it will ‘act on the findings of the Cox Review into how better to stimulate creativity and innovation among SMEs’.

Design Council chairman George Cox is assessing the links between business and design, and between universities and industry. It will be published at the end of the year (DW 24 March).

The thorny issue of the R&D tax credit does not appear to be high on the Labour agenda, however, and has not been addressed in the manifesto, despite appearing in the Tories’ own business manifesto, published the week before.

The Conservative Party has pledged to ‘simplify’ the R&D tax credit and ‘amend it to encourage companies to innovate and invest in design activities’. Tax relief has not yet been extended to include UK design (DW 28 April).

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