The Design Council is anticipating a number of industry benefits from the Office for National Statistics’ reclassification of design. It is hoped that the reclassification will allow more data to be gathered on what the Design Council estimates is an £11bn sector.
From 1 January, design-led businesses are being tagged with a new standard industrial classification, or SIC, code. The previous coding has long been criticised by the Design Council for assessing the contribution of design to the UK economy inaccurately.
The new shorter and simpler code will allow researchers to build up national and international pictures of the design industry, drawing together information from furniture, graphics, interior, wallpaper, textile, fashion and jewellery design consultancies. ‘This is a welcome development,’ says Design Council design knowledge manager Antonia Ward. ‘Improving Government statistics so that they more accurately reflect British industry’s investment in design is very positive.’
However, she adds, ‘SIC data is unlikely to reveal the more interesting aspects of design, such as the areas emerging as potential drivers of the future, including service design. This data is important if we are to orient our investment in design to properly cater to the needs of industry in the future.’
Later this year a Greater London Authority report on London’s creative sector is to be published. It may include data from the new SIC code.
‘It will take time, however, for the new code to come into full use,’ says a spokesman for the ONS. ‘It is down to businesses to make sure that they are using the new code on their documents.’