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  • Blue Necklace [detail] by Crafts Council Maker Bridget Harvey.

Policy Brief April 2018

This month’s policy brief is dominated by self-employment issues:

Employment issues

1. Tax relief for self-employment - consultation

The Government is consulting on how it could extend the existing tax relief for self-funded work-related training by employees and the self-employed. Currently self-employed workers can deduct the costs of training incurred “wholly and exclusively” for their business where it maintains or updates existing skills, but not when it introduces new skills.

Reforming the rules so that the self-employed can deduct expenditure in these circumstances would support those learning new skills to expand their businesses. It would also make it more consistent with the existing rules for employees. (See sections 5.10 and 5.11 of the consultation document.)

The Crafts Council will be responding to the consultation to welcome and support the proposals. We’d urge you to do the same. The deadline is 8 June.

2. Improving self-employment

Demos’ new report on self-employment, Free Radicals, explores recommendations to improve support for self-employed workers. The steady rise of self-employment has been one of the most significant labour market trends of the past two decades. Public policy however, has yet to catch up. The report proposes thirty policy recommendations across six areas – savings, tax, training, working conditions, the platform economy and welfare. These include:

  • The Government should ask the Careers Enterprise Company to develop a strategy to improve the understanding of self-employment in schools, colleges and universities.
  • The Government should reform membership requirements of LEPs so that there is at least one self-employed member sitting on every LEP.

3. Inequalities

Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries, the latest report from the inequalities research project, ‘Who is missing from the picture? The problem of inequality in the creative economy and what we can do about it’ explores how people of working class origin have been and continue to be excluded. It shows how inequalities are reinforced by the prevalence of unpaid labour.

“The story of social class within this story is one of exclusion. Every sector apart from Crafts, which includes smiths, glass makers and ceramicists, has an over-representation of those from upper middle class social origins, with those from working class origins making up far less of the workforce.” (p7)

The analysis also indicates that cultural workers have sets of ethical and political values that are different from people in many other occupations in society.

4. International talent

The Migration Advisory Committee is developing an evidence base for the design of a new migration system. It notes that 6.4% of the freelancers (who account for 35% of the creative sector) are European Economic Area nationals.

5. Arts organisations among best employers for women

The gender pay gap is smaller in the arts than other sectors, although some organisations are still trailing behind. Overall the major arts employers still pay men more than women – there is a median hourly pay gap of 4.4%, but this is lower than the average of 12% across all 10,000 reporting employers.

6. Creative jobs set to grow faster than STEM

An analysis by the Creative Industries Federation and Nesta on workforce projections shows that the number of UK creative jobs is set to grow 5.3% by 2024, faster than those in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) at 5.1%, and double the average rate of employment which will increase by 2.5%. The report recommends that Ofsted should limit ‘outstanding’ to schools that warrant it: a school must teach creative subjects to be eligible for an ‘outstanding’ rating.


Lauren England explores what craft students expect to get out of their degrees in her latest blog. As she moves into the second half of her partnership PhD on professional practice development, Lauren will ask how higher education (HE) is meeting these expectations, against the backdrop of the HE review.

A summary of the Crafts Council’s new research strategy is now on our website. It sets out the framework and priorities for 2018-22.


The newly formed Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance represents more than fifty organisations with a shared belief that cultural engagement can be positive for health.  

Arts Council of Wales is proposing to support an arts and health co-ordinator in every Health Board in Wales, along with resourcing a Welsh Arts and Health Network. It has published a mapping exercise of culture and health projects, together with proposals to develop the field of arts, health and wellbeing.

The Mayor of London has published a draft culture strategy which sets out a planning framework to support a broad range of cultural places and spaces. The consultation is open till 19 June and the Crafts Council will be responding.

A new Arts Council England inquiry will investigate the potential future for culture in cities across the UK. It will investigate resourcing and the creation of an environment in which culture can flourish.

ENCATC, a European network of education, training and research organisations has published a toolkit on social media for cultural managers and audience development.

The European Network of Cultural Centres has released a digital toolkit to encourage and facilitate access to evaluation.