Spring Budget 2024: What Bristol Creative Industries members would like to see for creative businesses

29th February 2024

The government’s 2024 Spring Budget takes place on 6 March. Bristol Creative Industries members share what they would like to see in chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s speech for creative businesses.

“One thing we’re not looking for from the spring budget is a handout. After many conversations and hearing discussions at industry events, I don’t believe most businesses want this either. I set Distinctive up about three months before the not-so-mini budget in 2022. That single event made trading harder for our clients and us, deterred investment and had real life impacts on our colleagues.

“Given this context, another tax cut won’t touch the sides. What I’d like to see from the spring budget, first and foremost, is firm commitment to supporting things vital for sustainable economic growth and enabling us to plan effectively. Whether you call the state we’re in a ‘technical’ recession or not, that’s clearly not happening yet.

“If the economy is to stand a chance of growing sustainably, it needs investment in sectors like green technology, renewable energy, affordable housing, skills, and education. We also need a sustainable funding settlement for local authorities who are on the brink of financial collapse. Handouts grab the headlines, but they won’t address these fundamentals.

“It’s going to take more than one budget to change things for the better. But the government has a crucial opportunity with this budget to set a positive path, for an innovative, resilient creative sector and the broader economy.

“Progress will be harder without this.”

Ben Lowndes, Distinctive Communications
View Distinctive Communications’ profile here

“As with many businesses in the South West, recruiting exceptional talent is a key priority for Varn, so investments in digital skills training programs are crucial going forward. We are focused on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI), innovation and how search marketing will be evolving, so I hope to see initiatives from the government around education and investment to recognise that we are in an era of constant change.

“Allocating resources to establish AI-focused programs in schools and universities will help prepare our future creative and digital workforce. I’d love to see initiatives and apprenticeships tailored to AI and technology fields, in order to incentivise students to pursue learning in these critical areas.”

Tom Vaughton, Varn
View Varn’s profile here

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“While the past few years have been an incredibly exciting time for the creative sector in Bristol, we are currently grappling with navigating emerging technologies, rising costs, and increased competition.

“I’m hoping for more grant provision for evolving businesses to invest in team training and development, specifically in use of AI, automation and new tech. This is critical to helping Bristol retain its innovative creative reputation on a national and international stage, while helping to continue to attract and retain talent in the city.”

Lucy McKerron, Purplefish
View Purplefish’s BCI profile here

“Working within the digital space, we’re always striving to innovate, particularly to bridge the gap between tech and physical, providing people with new and personalised experiences. As tech evolves at pace, the creative industries within the South West must have access to the new techniques, new languages and innovations needed to ensure they remain relevant.

“Our hope for the Spring Budget is that there will be further investment into supporting access to that tech, not just for those already working in the industry, but also ensuring inclusive access to the critical emerging talent coming into the sector.”

Alex Saxon, Tiny Spark
View Tiny Spark’s BCI profile here

“It would be great to see a clear and strategic plan for the creative industries, notably arts and culture, that supports investment in skills and infrastructure. There needs to be a multifaceted approach across funding, facilities, business development and planning to nourish a thriving local arts and culture ecosystem. This requires collaboration across government agencies and community stakeholders.

‘The government’s creative industries sector vision published in June 2023 needs proper goals and funding if it is not to become an empty promise like Like Build Back Better and Levelling Up.

“At this stage in an election year however, it’s probably too late. The budget will inevitably focus on tax incentives to meet the expectations of traditional conservative voters.”

Catherine Frankpitt, Strike Communications
View Strike Communication’s profile here

“I would love to see a centralised portal of financial support available for the UK creative sector. Huge pots of money exist, all managed by separate entities – from Innovate UK to Arts Council England and Digital Catapult.

“We’re creatives at heart, not financiers or MBA holders, and it can be challenging enough to find them, check eligibility, and see what they’re able to fund – and that’s before you’ve even started the application.”

Russell Jones, JonesMillbank
View Jones Millbank’s profile here

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“We believe that AI has amazing potential as a complementary tool for the creative industries. We have seen the hype around this technology soften at the start of 2024 – primarily because people are realising that it takes time and effort to learn how to get good results. This is why training is such a vital part of realising the full value of AI.

“We think a fund to support recruitment and training of early careers talent into creative services, targeted on increasing digital/AI skills, would help ensure that the UK’s creative sector remains world leading and provide a valuable avenue for younger generations to acquire the skills they’ll need to navigate a digital future.”

Colm Hebblethwaite, Stratton Craig
View Stratton Craig’s BCI profile here

“With ESG and sustainability a key focus for many of our clients, we’d like to see the government put in place measures which will support and incentivise investment in net zero, particularly for smaller businesses who are facing financial constraints.

We’d also like to see research and development tax breaks prioritising sustainability-focused industries, such as renewable energy, mobility and facilitating the circular economy. With the right investment these sectors can be the growth engine of the UK; and Bristol is already leading in many of these areas. The budget is an opportunity unleash more of this potential.”

Katy Barney, AMBITIOUS
View AMBITIOUS’ BCI profile here

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“We’re officially in recession, but the truth is that we’ve been feeling the effects of a difficult economy for a long time, as smaller business owners as well as consumers.

“What I don’t want to hear in the budget discussion is how many “tough decisions” have been taken. As business owners, we understand tough decisions and take them most days! There are over 5 million businesses like mine which are often called the “backbone” of the economy, so we need to be respected, understood and supported. I don’t want to be used as a political pawn.

“I’d like some policies aimed at helping us to grow. Moves like an increase in corporation tax and a decrease in dividend allowance will affect the smaller business community disproportionately. When I get together with fellow small business owners, there’s a strong sense of support. I’d like to see that sense coming through from the government and wider business community.

“The consistently late payers that put small businesses under pressure are the large corporates, in my experience. I would certainly like a clamp down on late paying, which can be crippling.”

Jessica Morgan, Carnsight Communications
View Carnsight Communications’ BCI profile here

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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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