NMDC response to Comprehensive Spending Review 25/11/2015

NMDC is delighted that the Chancellor has recognised museums’ “rich contribution to society and our economy” by committing to maintain their funding until 2020.

In today’s Spending Review the Chancellor announced that funding for museums and the arts in England will be maintained in cash terms until 2019-20.  Taking into account inflation, this will mean a 5 to 7% cut in real terms over the next four years.  While this will still present challenges for museums to absorb, it is a very positive result. 

Diane Lees, Chair of the NMDC and Director-General of Imperial War Museums said: “This fantastic outcome is the result of a long and sustained campaign, which saw collaboration across the sector as museums came together to demonstrate our collective worth and value to the nation and to give government the evidence it needs to invest in our museums.  We are very pleased to be working with a government which recognises the unique and hugely significant contribution museums make to our society and economy.”

NMDC also welcomes the announcement that the pilot scheme for increased operational and financial freedoms for national museums will be made permanent and extended to our Ministry of Defence-funded members.  The scheme has enabled national museums to better raise and spend their own funds, encourage philanthropy and cope with the impact of funding cuts.  We welcome too announcements of new investment in cultural infrastructure across the UK, which includes funding for several NMDC member organisations, and the proposal to explore a new tax credit to support museum exhibitions, on which we look forward to further discussion with government.

Details of capital funding are still to be confirmed, as are funding settlements for national museums in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Whilst the outcome for national museums and Arts Council England is a very positive one, NMDC remains deeply concerned for regional museum funding with the announcement of further cuts to local government grants from DCLG.  Although many councils are well aware of the vital benefits that museums provide to their local communities and economy, further cuts to local authority budgets will put critical pressure on funding for museums around the country.  We hope that councils will follow the government's lead and continue to invest in museums despite the challenging economic climate in which they are operating.  

The UK museum sector is more vibrant, popular and internationally respected than it has ever been, with over 71 million visitors last year to the national and major regional museums within NMDC’s membership alone.  The outcome of today’s Spending Review acknowledges this success and will enable museums to continue to care for our world-class collections and provide the widest possible access to them.