Last week, George Osborne unveiled his 2014 Budget, which he said was for "makers, doers and savers". Key announcements included investment tax breaks for businesses, a series of measures to increase UK exports (the Government wants them to reach £1 trillion by 2020) and changes to ISAs that will allow savers to shield £15,000 from tax each year.
The Tories promoted cutting beer by 1p and halving bingo duty to 10 per cent in a rather poorly judged, patronising ad that said these measures would help "hardworking people do more of the things they enjoy". As well as slamming the ad, commentators also reacted to the news that the Government plans to set up a major data research initiative called The Alan Turing Institute, which may have implications for the digital sector. But it was savers and older people who were the real winners.
The "makers and doers" of adland did not have much to celebrate. While the Government reiterated it wanted to support the creative industries, the only tax relief went to theatre productions. So what should the coalition be doing to make the advertising community sing?
Camilla Harrisson, chief executive, M&C Saatchi
"The Government must recognise that the creative industry is one of the jewels in the economy’s crown – and, with the ad industry predicted to grow by £50 million in 2014 thanks to the World Cup, surely this jewel is worth protecting. And yet the Budget showed a real lack of incentivisation for the creative industry. If we are serious about driving business to the UK, we need George Osborne to follow other countries’ leads and offer tax rebates to the creative industry to encourage investment; and, to keep the UK’s talent from going elsewhere, we need legislation that works in our favour to ensure we are competitive in the talent market."
Tony Cullingham, programme leader, West Herts College
"The Government should support young, talented creative individuals from low-income households by scrapping tuition fees on vocational creative courses. Advertising is in danger of becoming a rich kids’ club. Watford ad course fees are the lowest in the country, but there’s a huge problem in attracting talent from other areas of the country. Many are unable to afford to live in London. The advertising business is too London-centric. Huge tax incentives and regional grants could encourage creative agencies to move to other regions. There’s no reason why the best ad agencies in the UK couldn’t be based in Grimsby or Hartlepool."
Paul O’Donnell, chairman, Ogilvy & Mather UK
"I’m not a fan of tax breaks and other incentives for any industry. The creative industries are pretty robust and more than capable of fighting their corner if given a stable business environment and a level playing field. The Advertising Association’s Front Foot initiative has done an excellent job in defining and quantifying the value of advertising to the greater economy and to our overall growth prospects. It has been pretty successful in engaging the Government in the process. Our industry needs the same things as any major business: a low tax environment and a liberal employment visa system that allows us to attract the best talent to London."
Ian Barber, director of communications, Advertising Association
"Got a view on the creative industries? Join the queue behind the CBI, Nesta, every political party and most of the thinktanks. The tricky bit is finding where, in the Venn diagram of film, publishing, architecture, design and the rest, the overlaps are. Not only are our agencies a huge creative industry in their own right, about £9 billion of adspend flows into the others. So encourage advertising. That means, for brands, creating the best regulatory climate to obtain ROI; for media, the best climate to make ad-funded content and monetise it; and, for agencies, developing the UK’s position as a global hub in the face of international challengers."