What does the November 2017 Budget mean for the heritage sector?
Following the release of the Mendoza Report two weeks ago, it seemed evident that the November 2017 Budget would have some impact, whether good or bad, on the museums and heritage sector. We as a sector provide a vital support to the governmental coffers through our contributions to the United Kingdom’s tourism industry, and are increasingly seen as a vital part of the UK economy, proving our worth throughout the year.
So let’s start at the ‘micro’ end of the scale; for those in the sector at the lower end of the pay scale, the November 2017 Budget presents a welcome rise in the Living Wage standards as of April 2018 that will affect many, particularly those in Front of House roles. Increasing to £7.83, it might not seem like a lot, but it will make a key difference to staff and is also likely to impact museum budgets, something that may be particularly felt by smaller museums.
On a much larger scale, a key factor for the heritage sector to consider is the spending budget for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS), which surprisingly, looks to increase slightly over the next few years. The current spending of £1.4 billion by the department looks to rise to £1.5 billion in 2018-19, potentially giving a small amount of reprieve from drastic cuts that the sector faces as the budget rolls around every year. With the influence of Brexit however, it is unclear whether this increase will truly see fruition.
Following on from the announcement in March about a Centenary Fund for the celebration of the 1918 Representation of the People Act, we now have more confirmed details about how exactly the £5 million promised will be spent. A fund of £1.2 million will be split between seven cities and towns with links to the suffrage movement. Bolton, Bristol, Leeds, Leicester, London, Manchester and Nottingham are to receive funding from this pot to focus on the celebrating the centenary. The remaining funding will be split between other community projects linked to the celebration of the centenary, presumably in a similar way to the WW1 funding provided by HLF. In terms of the East Midlands, it will definitely be worth watching what Nottingham and Leicester have got planned for their parts of the budget and how your organisation might be able to get involved.
A Cultural Development Fund will also be released to the DDCMS, providing up to £2 million worth of funding to ‘place based cultural development’. Although there are plenty of places that could receive help from this fund, it’s fair to say that the East Midlands stands a fair chance at receiving some of it, particularly as we have so many areas that would benefit from aid for local growth.
As always however, for those in the sector tied to Local Authority funding, the wait is now on to see how the November 2017 budget will affect the region in more detail. This combined with both the Mendoza Report, and the Tailored Reviews for Heritage Lottery Fund, will make the next twelve months undoubtedly interesting for the sector.
By Hollie Davison, Project Manager, Culture Syndicates