New culture secretary compares UK creative industries to woolly mammoth

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Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital and culture at the DCMS

New culture secretary compares UK creative industries to a woolly mammoth

New secretary of state for culture Matt Hancock has described the UK's creative industries as "a mammoth" in his first speech to the sector in his new post.

Speaking at the Creative Industries Federation's anniversary event at the Natural History Museum in London last night, Hancock noted how the museum contains "one of the world's finest collections of artefacts, from the T-Rex to the woolly mammoth".

"And I see only one mammoth," he added. "And that's the mammoth that is our creative industries."

The statement comes amid widespread concern that Brexit will damage the UK's creative sector, with restrictions on immigration viewed as a particular threat to the industry.

Creative sector worried over impact of Brexit

Hancock was promoted to the high-profile role of secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport as part of prime minister Theresa May's cabinet reshuffle this Monday.

He previously held the post of minister for digital and culture, a more junior post within the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

"The creative industries are one growing faster than ever, contributing almost 100 billion pounds to the UK economy every year," Hancock added in his speech.

However the Creative Industries Federation (CIF) has repeatedly expressed concern about the government's handling of Brexit negotiations and their potential damaging impact on the creative sector.

Most recently it urged the government not to adopt "reckless" immigration policies that could hurt creative businesses.

"Our global reputation has made us a magnet for world-class talent who, in turn, have helped build our international renown," said CIF chief executive John Kampfner. "It would be reckless to lose this hard-won success."

Many architecture and design firms rely on skilled workers from abroad, with with half of employees at some London firms coming from the EU. There are increasing concerns that tougher immigration policies, combined with the falling numbers of young people studying creative courses in the UK, could lead to a skills crisis.

Hancock met Dezeen last year to discuss Brexit concerns

Just over a year ago Hancock attended a dinner organised by Dezeen, where he met leading figures from the architecture and design sector to discuss concerns about Brexit and to highlight issues raised in Dezeen's Brexit Design Manifesto.

In a statement issued after the dinner Hancock praised the UK's architects and designers, describing the sector as "vitally important to our future as an outward looking, creative nation".

The UK has the world's third most valuable creative sector after the US and China, employing three million people and £87 billion to the UK economy, according to CIF figures.