The British Fashion Council’s Political Engagement Programme aims to make the fashion industry’s voice heard by government

Government Relations

The BFC is in constant communication with government and organisations on key issues affecting the fashion industry. Our industry’s sponsor government department is the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) with whom the BFC communicates on a weekly basis. We’d like to hear from you so that we may communicate your specific concerns back to our government colleagues. 

If you would like to get  regular updates and be a part of industry briefings please get in touch government@britishfashioncouncil.com.

The BFC sits on a number of forums to represent the fashion industry, including:

  • Creative Industries Council
    Chaired by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and Tim Davie BBC Director General. Contribution and updates to CIC website
  • Creative Industries Federation
    Founding member of body that represents, champions and supports the UK’s creative industries
  • Department for Culture Media & Sport Entertainment & Events Group
    Chaired by Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Creative & Digital
    Group to discuss and feed in issues to support events and festivals under COVID guidelines
  • Department for Culture Media & Sport Touring Working Group
    Chaired by Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Creative & Digital
  • Cross DIT/DCMS/BEIS groups
  • Department Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Consumer Goods Sector Panel Group for Trade Associations
  • GREAT Private Sector Council 

The BFC is working across a number of policy areas to secure government support for the future of the fashion industry and the challenges being faced due to Brexit and the COVID pandemic. 

Advice for designers to support their businesses can be found on the BFC’s Brexit guidance and Covid guidance webpages.

 

TALENT 

Developing and securing talent is an essential part of the fashion industry, both through education and training, and being able to source, retain and move talent and workers across the EU and internationally.  

Issues

  • The impact of COVID related travel restrictions on the industry that is used to operating globally, particularly on creatives and production.
  • Skills shortages exist, particularly in certain technical areas, and as a result of Brexit, with gaps in technical education and training which are unlikely to fill the shortage, with a need to broaden routes into the industry.
  • There are fears that the shortage will be further compounded by the changes to, and growing decline of arts education
  • The difficulties with the new UK Immigration system with bringing talent and workers into the UK, for example the salary threshold for skilled worker visas, lack of fashion roles on the Shortage Occupation List and complications for certain workers such as models.
  • The impact of Brexit on UK nationals being able to work across the EU, particularly creatives and freelancers, with issues around speed of and multiple entry and paperwork.
  • Diversity & Inclusion within fashion, broadening pathways into the industry.

Key Wins

  • Global Talent Visa for Fashion Designers, secured in partnership with Arts Council England, and the Home Office, with the support of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.  The BFC takes the role of Independent Assessor for applications in the fashion industry.
  • The creation of a Models Code of Practice with the BFMA and Home Office and DCMS that provides guidance to UK Visa Sponsors (model agencies) on how to bring models into the UK under the Temporary Visa creative route, and ensure that they work within their sponsor’s licence. Conversations with the Home Office are ongoing.
  • The BFC led the development of the Fashion Studio Assistant Apprenticeship with the Institute of Apprenticeships and a group of employers, giving new opportunities within the industry.

Representation

  • Representation on DCMS Touring Working Group, Chaired by the Minister for Digital & Culture
  • The BFC are in direct discussions with DCMS to draft a quarantine exemption for the fashion industry to ensure key talent is able to travel freely
  • The BFC are engaged with the Home Office Migration Policy Unit
  • The BFC represent the fashion industry on the Creative Industries Council Education and Diversity & Inclusion Sub-Groups
  • Input into Migration Advisory Committee consultations
  • All Parliamentary Party Group: Art, Craft, Design Education
  • T Level Development Panel for Craft and Design Led by the Institute of Apprenticeships & Technical Education, panel of practitioners developing the new T level route to study technical fashion post GSCE 

 

TRADE 

Fashion is a global industry. Understanding the impact of the UK exiting the EU on movement of goods, particularly as the industry relies on movement of components and samples, is a complex issue facing the industry.

Issues  

  • Supporting the industry to understand the complexities, decision-making and paperwork required to trade with the EU and internationally under new Free Trade Agreements to reduce management and cost.
  • Reaching workable Free Trade Agreements with other territories that are still in negotiation particularly in our key markets including USA.
  • Understanding Rules of Origin, in order to gain access to tariff and quota free trade with the EU, particularly as the fashion industry deals with component goods and short product life-cycles.
  • VAT & E-commerce - Changes on VAT charges for goods and services to EU and on Duties and VAT for ecommerce sales to EU.
  • Tax Free Shopping - Calls for a reversal of the decision to abolish the VAT Retail Export Scheme in the UK
  • The Boeing/Airbus trade dispute with the USA is continuing to have an impact on the fashion industry where punitive tariffs are being applied to fashion and textile products by the USA.

Key Wins

  • The BFC is lobbying alongside organisations across the luxury sectors to reinstate the VAT Retail Export Scheme for tax free shopping
  • The BFC is working with the Mayor of London’s Business Hub to ensure that the fashion sector in London has a better understanding of new requirements involved in selling, trading and working in the EU. Together we are developing a range of support that will deliver webinars, guides and 1-2-1 activity covering topics such as rules of origin, IP, e-commerce and VAT.
  • The BFC is working closely with government on Rules of Origin
  • The BFC organised a seminar for the fashion industry with representatives from DCMS and the Border and Protocol Delivery Group (within Cabinet Office). Policy experts from across the government (HMRC, Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Home Office) spoke on changes arising from the end of the Transition Period which affect the fashion industry and preparations for London Fashion Week. Topics covered movement of people (e.g. travelling to EU/UK for business purposes) and movement of goods (e.g. customs processes, customs relief, temporary admission and rules of origin).

Representation

  • Department for International Trade - Creative Industries Trade Advisory Group (TAG)
    Set up to support DIT policy team in defining new free trade agreements
  • Department for Culture Media and Sport Touring Working Group
    Chaired by Caroline Dinenage, Minister for Creative & Digital
  • Creative Industries Trade & Investment Board
  • Department for International Trade Luxury Steering Group
  • Department Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Consumer Goods Sector Panel Group Weekly call with trade associations to discuss future of industries including Brexit & COVID

 

THE FUTURE OF FASHION

The fashion industry is committed to reset and change to create responsible, sustainable businesses. 

Issues

  • Impact of COVID 19 on sales and businesses in the fashion industry is significant with revenues predicted to drop and a generation of fashion talent, from students and graduates through to start-up businesses will be affected.
  • Diversity & Inclusion - The BFC’s Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, is an essential part of its long-term plan to fight prejudice and discrimination and galvanise the industry into action. 
    Diversity & Inclusion
  • Clean Growth & Environment - The BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion aims to support the fashion industry in the UK accelerate towards circularity and the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, specifically it enables positive change through collaboration and knowledge sharing.
    Institute of Positive Fashion
  • The fashion industry needs to innovate to significantly reduce its impact on the environment.  Through an industry led strategy that focuses on R&D, supported by academia where appropriate, to create a new eco-system fashion industry that will see smarter manufacturing, waste management, re-cycling, upcycling and new business models to create a better circular fashion economy that significantly reduce the amount of waste and the industry’s impact on both environment and people.
  • Funding support from the government is essential to ensure the future of fashion. The fashion industry has benefited from European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), Mayor of London and Department for International Trade funding for development of the industry and businesses, enabling the industry to work collectively to test new showcasing platforms and support emerging talent.

Key Wins

  • The BFC have engaged Westminster Council to help us to secure free tests for London Fashion Week productions and filming and our constant conversations with DCMS have enabled London Fashion Week to go ahead under Covid secure guidelines. 
  • The BFC has ensured, with the support of DCMS, that productions for London Fashion Week February 2021 go ahead under COVID secure guidelines.
  • The BFC worked closely with DCMS to receive an exemption for physical shows to go ahead under COVID-secure guidelines for London Fashion Week September 2020.
  • Securing funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council to enable two Post-doctoral researchers to be based with the BFC to undertake research for the Institute of Positive Fashion.

Representation

  • CIC Innovation & R&D Sub-group
  • CIC Access to Growth Sub-group
  • UKRI Fashion Working Group
  • Department for International Development Garment Supply Chains Working Group

 

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 

Protection of Intellectual Property is a key issue for the fashion industry, which relies on creativity, design and brands.  

Issues

  • The law specific to Unregistered Designs protects the designers in the country where they are first disclosed whether public or private. Disclosure in the UK no longer affords protection across the EU. This is reciprocal for international brands. 
  • Under “exhaustion of rights” laws, there is currently a continuity of supply of parallel imports into the UK from the EEA, without reciprocity, thereby putting UK-based agents/distributors at a disadvantage.

Key Wins

  • The BFC has created a guide for designers and is speaking to partners to help with practical solutions.

Representation

  • Working closely with the Intellectual Property Office
  • CIC Intellectual Property Sub-Group

 

TIMELINE

The below timeline outlines the BFC’s engagement with the government on behalf of the fashion industry. 

February 2021

  • The BFC has secured free testing for designers and brands taking part in London Fashion Week through their partnership with Westminster Council. 
  • The BFC is working with the Mayor of London’s Business Hub to ensure that the fashion sector in London has a better understanding of new requirements involved in selling, trading and working in the EU. Together we are developing a range of support that will deliver webinars and 1-2-1 activity covering topics such as rules of origin, IP, e-commerce and VAT.

January 2021

  • An open Letter to the Prime Minister to focus attention on the challenges facing the fashion industry by Caroline Rush, British Fashion Council published in GQ
  • DCMS and the Border and Protocol Delivery Group (within Cabinet Office) hosts a webinar with the British Fashion Council. Policy experts from across the government (HMRC, Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Home Office) spoke on changes arising from the end of the Transition Period which affect the fashion industry and preparations for London Fashion Week. Topics covered movement of people (e.g. travelling to EU/UK for business purposes) and movement of goods (e.g. customs processes, customs relief, temporary admission and rules of origin).
  • The BFC has ensured, with the support of DCMS, that productions for London Fashion Week February 2021 go ahead under COVID secure guidelines.

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