The UK Design sector - economic snapshot 

  • The design sector (encompassing design and designer fashion) was directly responsible for an estimated £3.949 bn of Gross Value Added (GVA) in 2017 - an increase of 7.7 per cent on the previous year. Between 2010 and 2017, GVA rose by about 100 per cent. 
  • There are 163,000 UK design and designer fashion jobs in the creative industries. The largest concentrations are in London, South East and North West of England. It is esimated that about 50 per cent of design employees are educated to degree level.
  • The Design Council has estimated that the total contribution of the design economy - which includes everyone employed in design roles - is £71.7bn as measured by GVA, productivity, turnover and employment. It calculates that workers with a design element were 41 per cent more product than the average.
  • According to the official government data, the value of exported design services from UK was estimated at £461m in 2017. This represents an increase of 278 per cent since 2010. However, the Design Council's report on 'The Design Economy'  believes the contribution of design to the total export of goods and services from the UK is £34bn, equivalent to 7.3 per cent of total UK exports in 2013. 
Sources: DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates, DCMS, January 2019;  DCMS Sector Estimates: Employment, June 2019; The Design Economy


The value of the UK design industry


  • Design is highly valued by UK business, with an estimated £33.5bn spent annually on design.
  • Research conducted by the Design Council shows that despite the recession, the UK industry grew by 29 per cent between 2005 and 2010.
  • Design increases turnover: In the UK, for every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £20 in increased revenues
  • Design is linked to profit: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect over £4 increase in net operating profit
  • Design boosts exports: For every £1 invested in design, businesses can expect a return of over £5 in increased exports
  • UK firms cite design as increasingly important when combating the effects of recession. In 2008, 80 per cent of UK businesses believed that design would help them stay competitive. This figure rose to 97 per cent among rapidly growing companies
  • Around 35 per cent of UK exports come from industries that employ higher-than-average concentrations of designers
  • In the UK, businesses where design is integral to operations are twice as likely to have developed new products and services. Successful UK businesses and iconic brands such as Virgin, Jaguar Land Rover, O2, Dyson and Diageo all regard design as essential to innovation and market expansion.