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CSR Submission

Statement on the Spending Review
25 November 2015

The Treasury’s acknowledgement that the UK is ‘brilliant at culture’ is very welcome together with the Chancellor’s illustration of the power of grants to lever in investment[1]. This supports his previous sentence that a cut in the budget of such a small Department like DCMS is a false economy.

DCMS points out that the cut of 20% is in the administration budget while the overall cut to the DCMS resource budget is 5%, a good result in the context of the Spending Review.

Although arts, museums and sport are singled out for additional support, there was, however, little mention of heritage although the new £40 million Discover England Fund to boost tourism across England is a very positive investment together with the £1m for Hull’s UK City of Culture 2017 and to prepare for the next UK City of Culture.

Other welcome points were that Historic England and the Churches Conservation Trust will be given the same operational and financial freedoms as national museums to help these bodies to move towards greater financial self reliance and sustainability. The Government confirms its support to the new English Heritage charity. In DEFRA’s budget, the protection of funding for Areas of Outstanding National Beauty and National Parks is also good news.

Other measures in the Spending Review impinge on the condition of our heritage assets, notably the pressure on Local Authorities to reduce their property portfolios. The Spending Review will allow Local Authorities to retain 100% of receipts from sales to be used for improving local services. If this results in the rapid sale of town halls, libraries and other civic buildings, the Heritage Alliance will be working to ensure that disposal policies take account of the community value of these assets to avoid these buildings, many of them historic landmark buildings on the high street, being simply sold to the highest bidder and ending up empty or on the Heritage at Risk register. If the receipts were ploughed back into under-resourced historic environment services the overall principle would be more acceptable. Similar conditions should apply when central government departments release £4.5 billion worth of surplus land and property assets.

We were surprised that no further measures were made to boost philanthropic giving heritage but further information may lie in the promise of ‘tax reliefs for museums’.

The Alliance will make a further statement when more details on DCMS’s own allocation of its settlement is made public.

Full HMT statement https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spending-review-and-autumn-statement-2015-documents/spending-review-and-autumn-statement-2015

HMT settlements for DCMS, DCLG, DEFRA

Culture White Paper:

Responses from Heritage Alliance members:

Non-members:

Read the Heritage Alliance’s statement on the Spending Review
Read the Heritage Alliance’s CSR submission
Read the Heritage Alliance’s response to the Summer Budget
Read the Heritage Alliance’s summary of Budget 2015

Notes

[1] £1 billion levers in a quarter of a trillion to the economy – not a bad return

HMT asked Departments to “model” scenarios in which they reduce spending by 25% and 40% in real terms by 2019/20 compared to the 2015/16 level.

DCMS is already the smallest government department at £1.5billion in 2015/6.

The Spending Review set budgets for government departments and the devolved administrations for each financial year from 2016/17 to 2019/20.