BDI queries terms of Design Council review

British Design Innovation has raised concerns over the Government’s review of the Design Council, stating that it does not allow for public consultation and is chaired by a member of the Design Council’s board.

The review of ‘the future role and status’ of the Design Council was called on 16 July. It will be led by Martin Temple, chairman of manufacturer the 600 Group and council member of the Design Council, and will report back to the Government in September.

The review has been called as part of the coalition Government’s commitment to ‘reduce the number and cost of quangoes’ as well in response to the March 2010 Dyson Report, which recommended a review of the funding, objectives and impact of the Design Council.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which called the review, says, ’The review needs to be carried out swiftly in order to report at the beginning of September, therefore it required someone already familiar with the Design Council’s work, but who also has an extensive knowledge of both business and the workings of Government and with independence of thought.’

She adds, ’Stakeholders from business, the public sector and the design sector will have an opportunity to feed in to the review during August. A series of group discussions and meetings are being arranged and a wider group of stakeholders will be notified of the chance to input online via the BIS website.’

The BDI has also questioned Design Council chairman Lord Bichard’s assertion that there are ‘market failures’ in the design industry. The BDI suggests this claim is inaccurate, and says it is part of a bid by the Design Council to reposition itself as a ‘national strategic body’.

A spokesman for the BDI says, ‘The Design Council does not represent the design industry, so it needs to specify which design sector it attributes these so-called market failures to, what those failures are and how they were determined.

‘Otherwise, this unilateral declaration of market failure is a little like asserting a failure in the sports industry without specifying which sport you are talking about.’

In response to this claim, a spokesman for the Design Council says, ‘The Design Council wishes to make it clear that it does not agree with the BDI’s interpretation of Lord Bichard’s recent comments.’

He adds, ‘Comments from Design Council chairman Lord Bichard in a recent press release from the sponsoring department, Business, Innovation and Skills, emphasised the key role design can play in tackling market failures in delivering economic growth, customer-focused public services and growing design capability in businesses.

‘Lord Bichard’s full quote was, “I believe design will play a key role in driving renewal of economic growth and efficient, customer-focused public services. It is a rising force on political agendas around the world, in Europe, the US and most notably the Far East, where there is a significant national investment in building support infrastructure and growing design capability. The economic importance of design in the UK is not in question, nor is there any doubt about the existence of market failures and the need for support; it is a question of how this support is best delivered.”’

The spokesman adds, ‘Assertions that Lord Bichard or the Design Council have “stated that there is no doubt about the existence of market failures in the design industry” are therefore incorrect.’

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