Creative industry 'sidelined' in Brexit talks

The government is facing accusations that is “side-lining” the creative industries in favour of more traditional sectors, as it attempts to negotiate Brexit.

Trade body CIF says that the UK’s “fastest growing” industry should be at the heart of the talks, but government is instead focusing on financial services and the automotive sector.

“The news [for the government] is that the UK’s creative industries employ 700,000 more people than the financial services, and is worth £8bn more than the automotive sector,” said the Creative Industries Federation (CIF).

This month, the federation surveyed 131 of the UK’s leading creative businesses. And unfortunately for the government, the feeling of being side-lined is clear from the findings.

In particular, nearly 80% of the creative companies polled said they were “not confident” that Britain would be able to maintain its leading global reputation post-Brexit.

A fifth say a ‘no deal’ outcome will make them consider moving “part or all” of their business abroad, and 40% warn that it will harm their business’ ability to export.

“[There is] very real anxiety within the sector about a 'no deal' Brexit outcome,” said CIF’s John Kampfner. “We urge the government to look at our recommendations and ensure the creative industries are a top priority on its negotiating agenda.”

Directly affecting the self-employed, the federation’s recommendations include making the immigration system more ‘freelance-friendly,’ such as by introducing a visa specifically for freelancers.

The Photography sector is one part of the creative industries that would undoubtedly benefit. Currently, EU custom rules means there is no cost and a reduced admin burden on the movement of expensive photographic kit.

In addition, documentation is not required at border crossings and “for freelancers working on a tight turnaround and at short notice,” CIF explains, “this is essential.”

However, outside the EU, documentation such as ATA carnets is complex for many freelancers and SMEs; it must be applied for in advance and equipment must go through customs procedures.

Reflecting in its new Global Trade report, the federation says :“If documentation is required across Europe after Brexit, working [as a photography business] in the EU would be difficult with increased cost and delays.”

Featured in the report is Paul King, a freelance photographer. He too is concerned. “I’ve worked as a freelance photographer for 37 years across western Europe, though I’m based in London.

“By and large this has been easy,” he says. “But I’m concerned about my ability to continue working internationally once we leave the EU. As a sole trader I’d be unable to shoulder additional costs or admin.

“Perhaps my biggest worry is the potential of a period of stagnant growth while I transition my business model to operate under new arrangements.”

Other CIF recommendations put to the government include taking steps to maintain Britain as an open and welcoming cultural hub; ensuring no disruption to creative trading during the so-called ‘implementation period,’ and incorporating the role of UK creatives in evolving EU rules.

 

9th February 2018

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