Economics News United Kingdom

UK chancellor finds a little spare cash for art and heritage

In the budget, George Osborne raises limit for collectors' tax-break scheme by £10m a year and sets aside £20m to repair cathedrals

Money in the bag: George Osborne, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, delivers his 2014 budget

George Osborne, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, has found some spare cash for art and heritage in the budget he announced today: £10m for museum-quality art gifts, and a further £20m for Britain’s cathedrals.

The government’s cultural gifts scheme, which encourages owners to donate nationally important works of art and objects in return for a tax reduction, will have its limit increased from £30m to £40m a year from 2014/15.

The chancellor also announced that the government will provide £20m in grants to help fund cathedral restoration projects. The sum is “in recognition of their heritage significance and role in forthcoming remembrance activities to commemorate the First World War,” the budget statement notes.

Osborne told Parliament that the nation’s deficit is due to halve. “Debt is lower and the biggest single saving of all is a £42bn reduction in the interest payments we will have to make on that debt,” he said.

Since 2010, the coalition government’s austerity drive to cut the deficit means that national museums have seen their funding steadily cut (by around 24% in real terms). The budgets of the Department for Culture, Media and Sports and the arms-length funding body, Arts Council England have been slashed by tens of millions of pounds. Many arts groups will be relieved that no new cuts were announced today.

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20 Mar 14
14:20 CET


This really is a step in the right direction and I think I speak for many of us here that we are all relieved to hear that no more cuts have been made. One thing I do feel that is oftern not taken into consideration when funding the arts is that art can be such a driving force for investment in an area. Art does generate further investment that is clear and the impact of our arts should be given greater consideration when looking at budget spending.

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