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Autumn Spending Review

WestminsterIn a most welcome move from the Treasury, the Chancellor has announced in the Autumn Spending Review that arts funding will be protected from cuts, declaring that culture is one of the “best investments we can make”. Funding for Arts Council England (ACE) and the national museums and galleries will not fall in cash terms until at least 2019-20. This results in a small increase in cash terms of approximately £10m per annum for the four years up to 2019/20 for ACE. The DCMS received an overall cut of 5%, to include a 20% cut to its core administration budget. This allays fears that funding could be cut by up to 40%.

Announcing the Spending Review, Osborne said that £1bn in DCMS funds generate £250bn for the economy, making arts and culture among “the best investments we can make”. “Deep cuts in the small budget of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are a false economy,” he said. Osborne will also consider a new tax relief for museums and galleries, and has committed to protecting the free entry policy.

The DCLG will make “overall resource savings” of 29% over four years “through better financial management and further efficiency”. The local government grant will be reduced by £6.1bn, from £11.5bn in 2015-16 to £5.4bn in 2019-20, which the Local Government Association (LGA) says will have serious consequences for council services although Osborne was eager to assure the public that, thanks to devolved power and the abolishment of the uniform business rate, local government spending will not decrease.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of Arts Council England said; “This is an astonishing settlement for arts and culture. The very strong case made by the Arts Council and the sector, supported by DCMS ministers, for the huge benefit arts and culture deliver to our quality of life, our society and our creative economy has been recognised by the Chancellor. This settlement means we can keep up our efforts to ensure everyone, everywhere in England benefits from Arts Council money. We can continue to invest in children and young people, disadvantaged communities and new talent as well as hundreds of much loved arts and cultural institutions.

“We now need to understand the settlement for Local Authorities. Our team across the country will be having place by place conversations. We cannot replace their revenue but we’ll keep investing where Local Authorities keep faith with culture.”