Impact of COVID-19 on DCMS sectors: First Report Contents


The DCMS sectors

1.The remit of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spans a wide range of policy areas and economic sectors, from grassroots and professional sports to gambling and lotteries, from museums and the arts to telecoms and data protection.1 In 2018, these sectors contributed more than £224 billion or 11.7% of Gross Value Added (GVA), to the UK economy.2 DCMS also oversees some of the fastest growing industries: between 2017 and 2018, the creative industries’ GVA increased by 7.4%, more than five times the growth rate of the UK economy as a whole, which stood at 1.4%. This continued the trend seen since 2010, as illustrated in Figure 1.3

Figure 1: % Change in Gross Value Added 2010–2018

Source: DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2018 (provisional)

The rate of growth in the DCMS sectors extends to employment. In 2019, there were 5.3 million jobs across the DCMS sectors (accounting for 15.7% of the UK total), and since 2011 most sectors have experienced an above average increase in the number of jobs available, as illustrated in Figure 2.4

Figure 2: % Change in Total Employment 2011–2019

Source: DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2019: Employment

Yet DCMS remains one of the smallest departments by both budget and staffing, and has seen the highest turnover of Secretaries of State of any Department: the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP is the ninth since May 2010.5 Moreover, structural features within these sectors have rendered them highly vulnerable during the Covid-19 crisis, as we shall explore throughout this report.

2.The organisations that comprise the digital, culture, media and sport sectors, and the goods and services they provide, are highly heterogenous. As such, and in line with experiences across the wider economy, some have been less impacted by the measures introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19 than others. However, with 68% of respondents to DCMS’s own survey reporting that their businesses’ ability to trade as a viable entity is under threat, it is clear that Covid-19 presents serious challenges across the DCMS sectors.6 Parallels between the sectors illustrate why some have been, and will continue to be, particularly hard hit by loss of income, uncertainty about reopening and long-term disruptions to the workforce or supply chain. For example, tourism and live events are both highly seasonal industries, and the loss of income incurred due to cancellations or closures over spring and summer will not be replaced until 2021—at which point income will be further affected by many bookings being deferrals rather than new business.7 Many of the sectors also bring people together to share in communal experiences, be that at a football match, a concert or a hotel restaurant, to which continued social distancing measures present an existential challenge.8 It is also clear that these sectors are highly interconnected—tourists are attracted by the cultural events on offer; broadcasting and streaming generate much-needed income for sports and creatives, yet also need these events to fill their schedules—which means problems in one reverberate across the economy.9

3.The sectors under DCMS’s remit have benefited to varying extents from the emergency business support measures announced by HM Treasury.10 Indeed, 55% of respondents to a DCMS survey said that they had accessed Government support to mitigate financial pressures of the outbreak.11 Sector-specific emergency funding packages have also been made available by the numerous non-departmental public bodies that distribute Government funding and funds for good causes generated by National Lottery revenue, as illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1

DCMS’s Non-Departmental Public Bodies–Emergency Funding

Arts Council England12


Individual Practitioners’ Fund


Organisations outside the National Portfolio


National Portfolio Organisations


British Film Institute13


Production Continuation Fund


Film & TV Emergency Relief Fund


BFI Fan Covid-19 Resilience Fund


BFI Funded Features


Historic England Emergency Response Fund14


Emergency Response Fund


Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund


National Lottery Community Fund15


Government Charities Fund


Funding Decisions for 6 months


National Lottery Heritage Fund17


Sport England18


Community Emergency Fund


Sector Partner Funding


Sector Simulation


Funding Rollover


In this report, we will examine how effectively these measures have addressed the distinct needs of certain sectors under DCMS’s remit.

4.The many and varied sectors under the remit of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are integral to the UK’s national life and identity, as well as being vital drivers of economic growth and employment. Yet many parts of these sectors face an existential threat due to Covid-19 and the continued uncertainty that accompanies it.

Our inquiry

5.We launched our inquiry in April to gather experiences from the diverse sectors under our remit on how Covid-19 was affecting them.19 This followed evidence we gathered on the impact of Covid-19 on the charity and voluntary sector, which we covered separately in our report ‘The Covid-19 crisis and charities’. In that report, we expressed concerns about the suitability of HM Treasury’s business support schemes to third-sector organisations, and the scale of Government support for the charity sector at a time of diminished income and increased demand. We revisit these themes in this report, albeit in the context of different sectors, as we examine why the Government has consistently failed to recognise the scale of the challenge that Covid-19 presents to tourism, sport and culture, or the risk that losing them presents to the UK’s recovery from the crisis.

6.The majority of written evidence to our inquiry focused on culture, which we have broadly defined as including the creative industries, tourism and civil society.20 A significant number of contributions, especially those from local government bodies, dealt with cross-sector issues, again illustrating the interconnected nature of the DCMS sectors. We heard from a high number of individuals, including people working in the live events sector and its supply chains.21 To supplement this evidence, we took oral evidence from witnesses representing sports bodies, cultural organisations and artists, leading tourism attractions and civil society. A breakdown of the evidence we received is detailed in Figure 3.

We thank everyone who contributed to our inquiry. As they did so, organisations and individuals were adjusting to new ways of working and facing immense personal and professional pressures. We were struck by the dire situations outlined by so many who feel that they, or the industry they work in, have fallen through the cracks of the Government’s response to Covid-19. We also note the passion and commitment demonstrated for the UK’s sports, art forms and cultural institutions.

Figure 3

7.The purpose of this report is to scrutinise how effectively the Government is dealing with the challenges facing the sport, creative and tourism sectors, and to inform DCMS’s approach as it works with those sectors on their reopening and longer-term recovery. We also draw lessons from these industries, and DCMS’s work on digital exclusion, to assess how effectively it has advocated for its sectors across Government. We recognise that this is an evolving picture, and that for some sectors the full impact of Covid-19 might not be fully known until 2021 or later. Therefore, we will continue to gather evidence and scrutinise the Government’s funding, policies and performance in the coming months. We will consider whether to publish a further report based on that evidence.

1 The considerable overlap between economic measurements related to the DCMS sectors is explored in the Department’s economic estimates, footnoted below.

2 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2018 (provisional): Gross Value Added (5 February 2020), p4
Tourism is excluded from the 2018 calculation owing to “substantial revisions to the base data and methodology used to construct the tourism satellite account”; however, in 2017 its GVA stood at £59.6 billion.

3 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2018 (provisional): Gross Value Added (5 February 2020) , p9

4 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, ‘DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates 2019: Employment, accessed 18 June 2020

5 Institute for Government, Whitehall Monitor 2020, (20 January 2020), p 8, 19

6 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, ‘DCMS Business Survey - Headline Measures’, accessed 1 July 2020

7 VisitBritain (CVD0159), Tracy Brabin MP (CVD0189)

8 Production Services Association (CVD0104)

9 The Really Useful Group Ltd (CVD0167), S4C (CVD0372)

10 See Appendix for details of these measures and their eligibility criteria.

11 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, ‘DCMS Business Survey - Headline Measures’, accessed 1 July 2020

12 Arts Council England, ‘Data Report: Emergency Funding Report, accessed 6 July 2020

13 British Film Institute, ‘BFI sets out support for UK industry impacted by COVID-19 crisis’, accessed 6 July 2020

14 Historic England, ‘Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund and ‘Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund’, accessed 6 July 2020

16 This figure may rise by an additional £110 million, which the Government has held back to address emerging priorities.

17 National Lottery Heritage Fund, ‘Emergency Fund’, accessed 6 July 2020

18 Sport England, ‘Funding, Innovation and Flexibility’, accessed 6 July 2020

19 Alongside our work on this topic we have continued to gather evidence for our inquiries on ‘The Future of Public Service Broadcasting’ and ‘Broadband and the Road to 5G’. As such, this report does not cover the media or telecoms sectors in detail; however, we intend to continue to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on these sectors over the coming months. Our Sub-Committee on Online Harms and Disinformation has also been examining disinformation during Covid-19, detailed in our separate report on the topic.

20 The relatively low proportion of submissions from civil society organisations is in large part due to our ate piece of work on the charity sector, which received more than 70 submissions from charities, umbrella groups and civil society.

21 DCMS defines the creative industries as: advertising and marketing; architecture; crafts; design (product, graphic and fashion design); film, TV, radio and photography; IT, software and computer services; publishing; museums, galleries and libraries; music, performing and visual arts.

Published: 23 July 2020