General Election 2024: What creative businesses want from the next government and what the parties have said about the creative industries

27th June 2024

With the 2024 general election taking place on 4 July, members of Bristol Creative Industries share what they would like to see for the sector from the next government.

We also outline the specific promises for the creative industries included in political parties’ general election manifestos. 

“Everyone is quick to support the creative industries and our contribution in theory, but it’s the delivery of that support in practice that matters. Support means access to funding – proper grants, that actually give companies what’s needed to innovate and accelerate. It’s also about making that funding fully accessible to all.

“It’s been interesting to read the different parties’ approaches to small business in their manifestos (and the lack of focus on it, in some). I like the idea of the FSB’s Small Business Act, particularly measures like making HMRC as helpful as possible, and penalising late paying companies, which can have a devastating impact on smaller firms. Overall, I’m optimistic for change.”

Jessica Morgan, Carnsight Communications

“We’d like to see greater collaboration between the government and educational institutions to develop curriculums tailored to the evolving needs of the PR industry, especially around adopting AI in PR practices.

“We see a real commitment from UK businesses in ESG initiatives and we think the next government should encourage sustainable practices further through incentives for green initiatives and sustainable business operations.

“Lastly, we’d like to see the implementation of economic policies that foster a stable and growing economy, open financial markets, and provide capital to drive innovation after a prolonged period of uncertainty and upheaval.”


“The creative industry faces two significant challenges: attracting and retaining skilled talent and securing financial support to facilitate investment and growth in a challenging economic environment.

“Many creative businesses are small and agile, enabling them to deliver results with minimal resources. However, for these businesses to reach their full potential, the next government must acknowledge the creative sector’s value and contribution to the UK economy and provide tangible support.

“That means offering tax incentives to small businesses and startups, increasing access to loans and grants – and not just for R&D – expanding and supporting creative apprenticeship programmes, and providing business support programmes specifically tailored for small and creative businesses.

“Finally, we need greater market visibility and opportunities to access national and international trade.”

Catherine Frankpitt, Strike Communications

“Creative businesses are heavily dependent on eduction. Recruitment is not easy and neither is it easy for freelancers and employees to keep their skills current. We need really solid education right from pre-school to continuing professional development.

“The National Education Service proposal in the Labour manifestos of 2017 and 2019 would have worked very well for creative businesses. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear in the 2024 manifesto.”

Adam Nieman, Real World Visuals

“There is a huge gap or opportunity to support creative business owners with better business management training, e.g. mini MBAs for small creative service firms. Most agencies are lead by creatives or technicians, without a grounding in leadership, management, finance, business strategy, marketing etc. and most “get stuck”. Mini MBA type programs, similar to the Goldman Sachs offer and perhaps provided through university business schools would help agency founders to get basics right, to save years of plateauing and enable them to focus on growth rather fire fighting.”

Janusz Stabik, digital agency mentor

“The arts have recently been diminished within education and the national curriculum, so support should be focused around embracing and building back creativity and arts within schools for the next generation of designers and creatives.”

Paul Ellis, Oakwood

“When will any government make 30 day payment terms mandatory across businesses? It would bring a level of certainty of cash flow for creatives across the sector and reduce the amount of wasted time chasing paperwork.”

Neil Sims, Oakwood

“I would like to see a change in pay reporting from businesses to help tackle the gender pay gap. The government states that businesses over 250 people must publish their pay scales, but 98% of the design industry employ less than 50 people. Changing this pay reporting to include smaller businesses will help close the gap, along with other incentives that can help tackle gender pay inequality.”

Alison Harvey​​​, Oakwood

“It was disheartening to read in The Guardian that design and technology could potentially be removed from the national curriculum within four years. This stark possibility underscores the urgent need for immediate government action to support and promote the creative industries.

“To continue building the creative sector, further focus needs to be placed on education, advocacy, and innovation, ensuring the sector not only survives but thrives in a rapidly changing world.

“Education is where it begins. The government must recruit and keep inspirational teachers who can inspire and cultivate the future generation of creative individuals. Quality educators play a crucial role in motivating students and equipping them with the necessary skills to excel in creative industries.

“It’s also crucial to advocate for the creative industry and change outdated perspectives to promote diverse career paths. Traditional career guidance often emphasises professions like policing or accounting, while overlooking the numerous opportunities available in creative industries. It’s important to shift this discussion in educational institutions, as well as with parents and the community, whilst showcasing success stories and the economic potential of creative careers.

“Innovation is at the heart of the UK’s creative accomplishments. For instance, consider Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s creation of the World Wide Web or the iconic design of the Mini car. These examples illustrate the UK’s leadership in problem-solving and generating new ideas. To continue this momentum, the government needs to provide support to creative start-ups, allocate funds for arts research and development, and promote collaborations between businesses and creative professionals.

“So, let’s remember what we’re good at as a nation, continue to nurture it, and constantly innovative, to remain at the global forefront of creativity.”

Ryan Wills, Taxi Studio

“As a specialist SEO agency, we are seeing such transformation with AI powered search and recognise the impact this will have on our clients. We are focused on building our AI innovation expertise and investing in our agency team and talent, so that we are constantly ahead of the curve.

“We are strong advocates that the next government must focus on digital skills education to help prepare our future creative industry workforce. We see investment in digital and AI education, skills, initiatives and training will be crucial for businesses like ours, so we can recruit exceptional talent for the future.

“We believe the next government must also foster collaborations between educational institutions and industry, to help bridge skills gaps and by investing in these, the government can empower and future proof the creative sector to help drive economic growth.”

Tom Vaughton, Varn

“The next government’s priorities should be on building confidence in the economy to support stability and growth, holding businesses to higher social and environmental standards, and supporting arts and creative education to nurture future talent and innovation.

“I also can’t help but mention that being more collaborative, open and friendly with Europe will bring in more opportunities for work and market access, which would be a big win for the creative sector.”

Ed Garrett, The Discourse

“We would like to see an updated approach to skills and training, that includes apprenticeships and skills bootcamps which are better suited to industry’s needs and the types of (self/contract) employment that make up so much of our workforce.

“The current inability of freelancers to access quality extended CPD through apprenticeships is a big barrier to those wishing to upskill and take on new clients & responsibilities.

“We also feel that there is a space for new training solutions that support people with some experience to gain enough skills to be be fully employable. Skills bootcamps are a partial solution but there is a big gap between 60 hours worth of skills training and 12-24 months of an apprenticeship. A mid-way offer that facilitates, for example, a graduate in one discipline to move into another related (e.g. music tech to events technician) one would unlock a huge amount of potential.”

Nick Young-Wolfe, MUTI Live

“The UK represents vast untapped potential for creative businesses. For young people, entry into the industry remains something of a closed shop, achieved via well-trodden paths. Any efforts to broaden these pathways are largely driven by charities or pro bono work by smaller businesses. So we’re undoubtedly missing out on millions of incredibly talented people, and they’re missing out on what could be exceptional careers.

“The incoming government should invest meaningfully in giving the next generation more exposure to what our industry can offer, and easier access to financial and professional support that would make a creative career a viable option for all, regardless of background. Then let’s see what we could achieve!”

Ailsa Billington, Proctor + Stevenson

“The critical area where creative businesses, specifically SMEs, are likely to fall down in the next few years is around developing the digital and emerging tech skills to remain competitive and current. I’m hoping that the new government not only extends its investment of funding for the SME creative community to upskill their teams, but also facilitates better collaborations between business and academia to ensure future training options are both fit for purpose and accessible to businesses of all sizes.”

Lucy McKerron, Purplefish

“Businesses have faced so much disruption and uncertainty in recent years that stability wouldn’t go amiss.

“That’s why, above all else, I’d like to see focus from the next government. I hope this fosters sustainable growth and effective planning, instead of short-term fixes.

“Establishing a supportive environment for green technology, renewable energy, affordable housing, education, and skills is crucial. Running across this is an urgent need to provide sustainable funding for local authorities which stand on the brink of financial collapse.

“These are not ethereal things distant from people’s lives, even if they may not be headline grabbers in themselves. They affect how we live, work and learn.

“Addressing them takes long-term planning. That’s why focus, and purpose, matters. Without it, progress becomes more difficult.”

Ben Lowndes, Distinctive Communications

“Recognise and recompense the creative industries for the contribution to the UK economy and wellbeing. Appoint a secretary of state for culture, media and sport who has worked in business. Provide vital finance for the running of smaller galleries, theatres, museums and music venues. Explore innovative funding models for reducing ticket prices, i.e. an ‘entertainment tax’ for Google, Netflix, energy suppliers etc.

“Reduce bureaucracy for funding applications and encourage collaboration versus competition for industry bodies. Urgently work with business and implement policy to critically improve career access for under-represented groups. Acknowledge that the foundation of the industry is freelancers and review their tax treatment.”

Rachel Lane, Ladbroke Gnomes

Making Tax Digital (MTD) has been a massive cloud over our heads for about a decade now and we are still not ready for it. I’d like to see more understanding for the creative industries in regards to keeping the threshold at £50,000 turnover before MTD for income tax is compulsory. Creative business owners are not ready, and some don’t even know about it enough to apply everything that comes with it successfully. If it is voluntary, more will come on board without any major issues. It is all about how it is handled rather than enforcing. Make it voluntary or give them more time to provide funded training.”

Yarka Krajickova, Action Your Accounts


  • Investment incentives already exist (under the Conservatives) on full expensing for businesses. These need to continue and extended to small creative businesses when purchasing expensive IT.
  • The Conservatives have already cut National Insurance twice and will do more, including the abolition of NI for the self-employed. Labour won’t.
  • The Conservatives have undertaken to help freelancers and SMEs. This includes a large number of creative freelancers.
  • Funding exists, but the levels, types and sectors should be reviewed to accelerate innovation, creativity and productivity.
  • The tax-free personal allowance, currently £12,570, should be raised when the UK can afford it.
  • Raise the VAT threshold for creative businesses.
  • Better study to work support programmes for apprentices and undergraduates to help ready them for the workplace.
  • Export credits for brilliant creatives selling their work outside the UK.
  • More robust artificial intelligence and intellectual property laws to protect everyone.
  • Enshrine in law 30 day maximum payment with enforced interest rate penalties on late payments (like in Germany).
  • Enshrine in law payment for agency pitche. This would also apply to speculative work requested of freelancers.
  • Enshrine in law a maximum of five agencies for pitches with a clear, robust and communicated pitch timeline to encourage due diligence by clients, reduce time wasting and improve productivity. The same should apply for freelancers for fair alignment.

Andy Clarke, Huho Consulting

What political parties have promised for the creative industries in general election manifestos

Here are policies specific to the creative industries included in political parties’ general election manifestos:

Conservative Party [read the full manifesto]

– “deliver a dedicated flexible coordination service so that everyone who wants to work in the film, TV, gaming and music sectors can work on live productions whilst benefiting from at least 12 months of secure training”.

–  ensure creative sector tax incentives “remain competitive”.

–  ensure creators are “properly protected and remunerated for their work, whilst also making the most of the opportunities of artificial intelligence (AI) and its applications for creativity in the future”.

–  launch a review of England’s nighttime economy, “looking at how to reverse the decline in pubs and clubs and how to make our towns and cities great places to go out”.

–  the Conservative Party says “the BBC should represent the perspectives of the entire nation with diversity of thought, accuracy and impartiality as its guiding principles. The party says it “will carefully consider the findings of the Funding Review ahead of the next Royal Charter and ensure it upholds these principles”, and also “introduce a new complaints process for the BBC so the BBC does not mark its own homework”.

Labour Party [read the full manifesto]

Labour’s general election manifesto refers to its ‘plan for the arts, culture and creative industries‘ which it published in March 2024:

–  “find the right balance between fostering innovation in AI while ensuring protection for creators and the ongoing viability of the creative industries”.

–  make sure that a freelance career in the arts remains a viable prospect through a “New Deal for Working People”.

–  seek arrangements with the EU to facilitate easier touring and cultural exchange

–  support creative SMEs, and prevent the loss of local cultural spaces through “Space to Create”, “the first national cultural infrastructure map”.

–  support arts and cultural organisations “which will enable growth in the wider creative industries by making sure there are pathways from grassroots art and culture to creative careers and support the broadening of audiences”.

–  collaborate with the sector, the Creative Industries Council, Arts Councils and other public funders to “create a finance models to attract more funding from different sources into arts organisations”.

– “work constructively to make sure the BBC and our other public service broadcasters can carry on investing in the companies that create distinctive creative output which is exported across the world; and to continue informing, educating and entertaining people across the country for generations to come.”

– launch a review of Arts Council England to consider how best to position the organisation for the next decade.

–  introduce the National Music Education Network as a ‘landing point’ for parents, carers and teachers.

–  support the museums and galleries sector to make more, high-quality images available for free, and “to bring incredible art and artefacts into communities”.

–  tackle ticket touting by capping resale prices and giving the Competition and Markets Authority powers to regulate resale platforms.

–  create a National Data Library “to bring together existing research programmes and help deliver data-driven public services…whilst maintaining strong safeguards and ensuring all of the public benefit”.

–  support the development of the artificial intelligence sector and remove planning barriers to new datacentres.

Liberal Democrats [read the full manifesto]

–  “protect the BBC, S4C, BBC Alba and Channel 4 as independent, publicly owned, public service broadcasters.”

–  “promote creative skills, address the barriers to finance faced by small businesses, and support modern and flexible patent, copyright and licensing rules.”

–  “negotiate free and simple short-term travel arrangements for UK artists to perform in the EU, and European artists to perform in the UK.”

–  establish creative enterprise zones across the UK to grow and regenerate cultural output.

–  appoint a dedicated minister of state for tourism and hospitality.

–  maintain free access to national museums and galleries.

–  apply to participate fully in Creative Europe to improve funding.

–  require at least 80% of on-demand TV content to be subtitled, 10% audiodescribed and 5% signed.

–  “support independent, Leveson-compliant regulation to ensure privacy, quality, diversity and choice in both print and online media, and proceed with part two of the Leveson Inquiry.”

–  pass a “anti-SLAPP law” to “provide robust protection for free speech, whistleblowers and media scrutiny against Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP).

– “support the BBC both to provide impartial news and information, and to take a leading role in increasing media literacy and educating all generations in tackling” the impact of fake news.

–  implementing the Competition and Markets Authority’s recommendations to crack down on illegal ticket resale.

–  “create a clear, workable and well-resourced cross-sectoral regulatory framework for artificial intelligence that promotes innovation while creating certainty for AI users, developers and investors”.

–  negotiate the UK’s participation in the Trade and Technology Council with the US and the EU “so we can play a leading role in global AI regulation”.

Green Party [read the full manifesto]

–  invest an extra £5bn over five years for local government spending on arts and culture.

–  VAT axed on tickets for local theatre, cultural events and hospitality.

–  visa-free access to the EU for UK musicians.

–  “implement the 2012 Leveson Report recommendations on cleaning up the media and reinstate the second part of the review.”

–  help the night-time economy through a review of planning regulations and giving local authorities the powers to ensure there is space for cultural life.

–  push for rules on media to be tightened so that no individual or company owns more than 20% of a media market.

–  new grants to encourage the growth of local news publishers.

–  introduce a Digital Bill of Rights that “establishes the UK as a leading voice on standards for the rule of law and democracy in digital spaces”.

“push for a precautionary regulatory approach to the harms and risk of artificial intelligence”, and “align the UK approach with European countries, UNESCO and global efforts to support a coordinated response to future risks of AI”.

–  “insist on the protection of the intellectual property of artists, writers and musicians and other creators, ensure that AI does not erode the value of human creativity and ensure workers’ rights and interests are respected when AI leads to significant changes in working conditions”


About Bristol Creative Industries

Bristol Creative Industries is the membership network that supports the region's creative sector to learn, grow and connect, driven by the common belief that we can achieve more collectively than alone. 

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