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Our summary of the budget documents: what does it mean for the arts and culture?

As expected yesterday’s budget has given an indication of the headline money available to all government departments between 2016 and 2020, and those cuts are not as deep as previously announced in the March Budget.  It does not give specific detail about the settlement that DCMS will receive and pass on to the Arts Council or the national museums.  That will become clear later in the year as part of the forthcoming spending review.

The government’s plans have now been smoothed out, with more borrowing in each of the three years following 2015-16. But they will require £37 billion of further savings to be made.

The Budget showed £12 billion of those savings coming from welfare cuts and £5 billion coming from tax measures. But further savings of £20 billion are required and the Spending Review will identify where these will be found.

While Departmental spending is forecast to remain relatively flat in cash terms over the next few years, the Office for Budget Responsibility report on The Budget reveals cumulative savings in real terms of the following lost from all departments to get the finance back into surplus: £1.7 billion by 2016-17, £9.4 billion by 2017-18, £15.6 billion by 2018-19 and £17.9 billion by 2019-20. Osborne has indicated that none of the cuts to Departments will be as deep as in 2011-12 and 2012-13 (charts on p.18 and 118 of OBR report). These cuts will be applied across all departments and we will find out more detail at the Spending Review.

It is too early to predict what this means for DCMS and then Arts Council’s settlement. The Arts Council will continue to make the case for public investment in arts and culture with government across the summer.

There were two specific projects linked to culture which were mentioned in the budget documents, including;

  • the use of banking fines to support Ludlow Museum with £0.25 million – to facilitate the publication online of the unique and historically important geological collections held in Ludlow
  • the government's support of the Museum of London’s ambition to move from London Wall to Smithfield General Mark


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