Designers generate £71.7bn for the UK economy

New report from the Design Council provides evidence of design creating thousands of jobs and boosting the British economy significantly.


The Design Council’s latest report is the most comprehensive account of design’s contribution to the UK Economy yet.

The Design Economy 2015 research explores the value contributed by designers working in both design-specific and non-design industries - and everyone from graphic designers to architects.

Analysing the Office of National Statistics’ data to better understand the value of design across the UK economy, the government-endorsed report shows that, in 2013, the design economy generated £71.7bn in gross value added (GVA), equivalent to 7.2% of total GVA.

In the period between 2009-2013, the design economy GVA increased by 27.9%, compared to 18.1% across the UK economy as a whole.

The design economy refers to value created by those employed in design roles in a wide variety of industries – from design-intensive sectors, such as web design or animation, to designers and design-engineers in automotive or aerospace companies.

Approximately 580,000 people are directly employed in the UK’s design industries, while a further one million designers work across the economy in non-design industries. This makes the design economy equivalent to the ninth biggest employer in the UK.

You can order a copy of the report from the Design Council.


In 2013, approximately 83% of design economy GVA was delivered by three sub-sectors:  digital  design  (£30bn, 42% of design GVA), architecture & built environment (£17.3bn, 24%) and product & industrial design (£12.3bn, 17%).

The report found that there are 72,340 design-intensive firms operating across the UK. This has increased by 51% from 2010, exceeding the growth rate across the UK as a whole (5.7% across the same period).

Some sectors of the UK economy have fully embraced the power of design. In the information and communication sector, for example, by concentration, designers account for 21.7% of the workforce and 23.6% of the wage bill. However it also found that the sectors least likely to employ designers are accommodation and food services, health and social work, and education.

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It also found that workers with a design element to their work were 41% more productive than the average. If you're a designer, give yourself a pat on the back;  each of you delivers £47,400 in output (GVA per worker) compared with £33,600 across the rest of the economy.

And this productivity is increasing; up 7.3% since 2009 for those in design industries (such as architecture and the built environment), and 13.5% for those in other, non-design-led industries (such as aerospace).

However, it's not all positive news. Those in the design economy are overwhelmingly male (78%) - with 53% of the general workforce being men.


“This new report provides evidence of how investment in design is helping to raise productivity, stimulate growth and make Britain more prosperous,” said Design Council chief executive John Mathers.

“The figures in our latest report speak for themselves. The design economy is creating thousands of jobs, exponentially improving British export markets and contributing billions to our economy.  It is vital that it is recognised and supported in order for this growth to continue."