The UK Design sector - economic snapshot 

  • According to the DCMS Economic Estimates for 2019 released in December 2020, the design sector (encompassing design and designer fashion) was directly responsible for an estimated £3.6bn of Gross Value Added (GVA) at current prices in 2019. Between 2010 and 2019, the GVA of the design category rose by about 103 per cent, using the metric of chained volume measures.
  • In 2018, there were an estimated 163,000 UK design and designer fashion jobs in the creative industries, according to Government data. The largest concentrations were in London, South East and North West of England, with an estimated 50 per cent of design employees 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 £486m in 2018. However, design industry reports, such as the Design Council's 'Design Economy' have estimated the total value of exported design goods and services is much higher.
Sources: DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates, December 2020; DCMS Sector Estimates: Trade in Services, February 2020 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.