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PA's PA 28th October 2016

PA's PA 28th October 2016

Welcome to PA’s PA in a week in which the Government finally gave the green light to a third runway at Heathrow after years of delays. However there could still be bumps along the way, with the decision immediately triggering warnings of protracted legal challenges. There was also a backlash from some Tory MPs, with Zac Goldsmith staying true to his long-standing pledge to cause a by-election in protest against any expansion. While he is keen for the election to be a referendum on the expansion at Heathrow, it is more likely it to be a referendum on a hard Brexit strategy, with the Lib Dems hoping to cash in on the 72% remain vote in the area. Meanwhile the Brexit camp received a boost this week after official figures indicated that the British economy grew by a recession defying 0.5% and the Japanese carmaker Nissan agreed to keep investing in Britain.

Creative industries and Brexit

The Creative Industries Foundation has said the UK should retain tariff free access to the EU market and continue to provide easy access to skills and talent from EU and non-EU countries in a report published this week outlining how the creative industries can thrive post-Brexit. The report said that talent and skills are “fundamental” to the UK’s creative success. It said: “It is vital we continue to cultivate our talent as well as to attract the brightest around the world”. It warned against restricting freedom of movement and said the Government should confirm “as a matter of priority” that EU nationals currently working in the UK will be able to remain. Highlighting the importance of the creative industries to the UK’s economy, the report said: “Creative exports including books, film, television and film, from Adele to Harry Potter and Downton Abbey to Sherlock, are the UK’s calling card to the world. They are valuable in their own right, but also promote the broader trading interests of UK plc as a symbol of the country’s imagination, innovation and diversity.” It stressed the importance of maintaining the strength of the intellectual property regime in the UK and said the Government should make the strong protection of IP rights a red line in future bilateral trade agreements.

Meanwhile, speaking in the House of Lords this week, culture minister Lord Ashton has said the creative industries are “very much at the top of the table” during Brexit discussions. He said: “The creative industries are one of the great success stories of Britain. They have expanded by 34% since 2010 and now contribute 5.3% of GVA, so they are economically important, quite apart from the cultural, aesthetic and important areas of promoting Britain abroad.” When asked about the importance of freedom of movement to the creative industries, Lord Ashton said he agreed that cultural interchange “by its very nature” requires people to move around. “That is well understood and it will be taken into account – among a host of many other factors – by the appropriate departments,” he added.

Publishing and creative industries export strategy

The Government was challenged in the House of Lords this week about why the publishing industry has been excluded from the Department for International Trade’s creative industries export campaign. Lib Dem peer Baroness Grender asked the Conservative Whip Baroness Mobarik, whether the Government had had any discussions with the publishing industry ahead of the strategy. She added: “Does the Minister share my astonishment that publishing, the fastest-growing creative industry exporter – a sector that has doubled book export revenues from China alone in the past four years – has been completely left out of the Department for International Trade’s five year campaign for creative industries? In a post-Brexit world, can we really afford to ignore this great British success?” Baroness Mobarik said the Government has been holding regular discussions with the PA and was supporting the sector such as by enabling it to attend international trade fairs. She also noted the success the publishing industry has had without government support, citing figures showing publishing exports increased by 166% between 2009 and 2014. She said: “This sector looks as if it will continue to grow. It definitely has the support of Government behind it.”

Exiting the EU and International Trade Select Committee update

Following the election of the Chairs for these two new select committees last week (reported in last week’s PA’s PA as Hillary Benn for the Exiting the EU Committee and Angus MacNeil for International Trade),the committees’ full membership has been announced.  Of interest to publishers will be former Culture Secretary (and prominent Leave campaigner) John Whittingdale’s presence on the Exiting the EU Committee along with former Justice (and Education) Secretary Michael Gove. 

Education Bill dropped

In a strange turn of events, the Government has abandoned its planned Education Bill which contained the controversial measure of encouraging all schools to become academies.  This proposal had already been significantly weakened from its preceding white paper which suggested such acadamisation should be compulsory. Such ‘encouragement’, it has been realised, does not require legislation therefore rendering the bill unnecessary.  The BBC’s Branwen Jeffreyshighlights how this allows Theresa May to draw a line under the education policy of David Cameron and allow her to pursue her preferred option of expanding grammar school education, a policy which is currently out for consultation

Science and Brexit update

Universities and science minister Jo Johnson has promised that the Government will not use the ring-fenced £26.3bn science budget pledged in April 2016 to underwrite funding lost after the UK leaves the EU. Appearing before the Science and Technology Committee this week, he said: “There is no intention of dipping into the ring fence to fund any shortfall”. However he said that the Treasury cannot give a precise figures because the bids are won on a “competitive basis”. Meanwhile the Brexit minister Robin Walker told the committee said that his department will “certainly be making clear the value of mobility, particularly in the research world”. He added: “Our whole ministerial team was engaged with recognising that the UK has always benefited from attracting bright people to our research community. We should certainly aim to be doing that in the future”. The PA sent the committee a briefing note prior to the hearing.

EU student applications fall

The number of EU students applying for places on the most competitive university courses in the UK, has dropped by 9% according to admissions body Ucas, ending a recent trend of annual increases. The deadline for medicine, dentistry, veterinary science and Oxbridge was on October 15. Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, suggested the decline in applications was due to the uncertainty over financial support for EU students. The Government only guaranteed EU student funding four days before the application deadline. Dandridge said: “to avoid future uncertainty, we need the Government to extend these transitional arrangements now for EU students considering applying for courses starting in 2018.” She said the full picture will only become clear after the main January deadline, when about 90% of applications are made.

Karen Bradley questioned by culture committee

The culture secretary Karen Bradley described the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as the department that can “help to deliver a country that works for everyone”, as it covers the sectors that make people happy and makes life worth living. Speaking at a culture select committee hearing about her departmental priorities, she  said: “If we are going to reach out to everybody in the country, giving them opportunities, giving them ambition, giving them aspiration, it is through DCMS sectors that we have an opportunity to reach many people who perhaps have not been reached previously.” She also noted how the sectors covered by DCMS punch above their weight in their “soft power” and can help open doors for the UK across the world. Turning to the topic of the BBC, she said she expected to see “distinctiveness” in its programming, which she defined as “something that would not just be produced by a commercial broadcaster”. When questioned about Channel 4, she said that no decision has yet been made about whether it will be privatised in future.

Digital and culture minister Matt Hancock will appear before the committee next week on Wednesday 2 November, where he will be questioned about how to promote the UK’s cultural wealth.

Apprenticeship levy update

Education Secretary Justine Greening has announced the final funding policy for May 2017onwards, and details of the new register of apprenticeship training providers. The Guardian reports here.  Key features include:

  • higher funding for STEM apprenticeship      frameworks and higher pricing of apprenticeship standards.
  • longer period of time for employers to spend funds in their digital      account, now with 24 months before they expire.
  • a commitment to introducing the ability for     employers to transfer digital funds to other employers in their supply chains, sector or to apprenticeship training agencies in 2018.
  • 90% contribution from government to the cost of training for employers that will not pay the levy.
  • 100% contribution from government to the cost of training for small employers that will not pay the levy and who take on apprentices who are 16 to 18 years old, 19- to 24-year-old care leavers or 19- to 24-year-olds with an education and health care plan.
  • £1,000 each from government to employers and training providers when they take on 16- to 18-year-olds, 19- to 24-year-olds who were in care or who have an education and health care plan.
  • help for training providers to adapt to the new, simpler funding model through an additional cash payment equal to 20% of the funding band maximum where they train 16- to 18-year-olds on frameworks.
  • a simplified version of the current system of support for people from disadvantaged areas.

This week we have:

Discussed the proposed new copyright directive with colleagues at the Federation of European Publishers; attended the Man Booker Prize (congratulations to PA member Oneworld on their author’s win); hosted a delegation of publishers from China; attended the Creative Industries Council with Culture Secretary Karen Bradley and Business Secretary Greg Clark.

Meeting with lead officials at BEIS to discuss the role of academic publishing and open access; discussing current activities with TES (Times Educational Supplement); speaking at a joint meeting of the IP and Publishing APPGs on Brexit and the Commission’s Digital Single Market copyright proposals; attending BBC Learning’s Industry Day; promoting the work of the PA and UK publishers at the Sharjah Book Fair.