Our response to the Spending Review 2021 - Museums Association

Our response to the Spending Review 2021

The Spending Review key announcements for public investment in museums include:

  • An extension of the Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief (MGETR) for a further two years until 31 March 2024, and an immediate increase in the headline rates of relief for MGETR from 20% (for non-touring productions) and 25% (for touring productions) to 45% and 50%. The increase will taper off after one year, and the relief is due to be ended entirely in 2024. This is a benefit to museums across the whole UK.
  • Confirmation of £153m Culture Investment Fund for cultural infrastructure projects in England over the course of the 3-year Spending Review period including a £77m fund that will support the MEND programme, which will help museums to upgrade their buildings and facilities. This pot will be shared with some library investment – it is not yet clear how these funds will be divided.
  • National Museums in England will benefit from a new £300m fund to support estate maintenance. The Natural History Museum will also benefit from a £125m investment in its new research centre at Harwell in Oxfordshire. There is an additional £14m to support national museums move collections out of Blythe House.
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport core budgets will increase by an average of 2.9% per year over the Spending Review period – a substantial increase. However, the vast majority of this spending is ringfenced for capital spending.
  • £52m in new funding for museums and cultural and sporting bodies in England next year to support recovery from Covid-19 and an additional £49m in 2024-25. This funding will be shared between Arts Council England and other cultural and sporting bodies – it is not yet clear what the division of funds will be.
  • The one-year 50% discount in Business Rates for Retail, Leisure and Hospitality businesses is expected to benefit museums.
  • An increase in local authority spending power of an average of 3% per year over the Spending Review period. While much of this funding is aimed at supporting social care and other statutory functions, it may help to alleviate some of the pressure on local government finances more widely.
  • Some museum projects are set to benefit from successful bids to the government’s Levelling Up Fund and Shared Prosperity Fund. Glasgow’s renovated Burrell Collection will benefit from £3m of additional investment, and Liverpool has secured £2m for the development of a new Beatles attraction.

Director of the Museums Association, Sharon Heal, said: “The Museums Association welcomes this package of support for museums which recognises the difficulties that the pandemic is still causing for our sector. We are still looking at the detail of the package announced and much is still to be clarified – but there are some notable wins for the sector.

“In particular, we are pleased to see the government recommit to funding for the renovation of regional museums in England. However, it should be noted that the government originally committed to £100m of spending on the MEND programme in 2019, this funding was cut short due to the pandemic. The Chancellor’s announcement goes some way to making good on the government’s original commitment.

“We are also pleased that the government has agreed to extend the Museums and Galleries Exhibitions Tax Relief and to double its value. This comes after months of advocacy by the MA and other sector bodies. However, we continue to believe that this relief should be made permanent on the same basis as other cultural sector tax reliefs, such as film and theatre.

“The remainder of this package is focused on supporting national museums in England – they have been hit particularly hard by the loss of international visitors during the pandemic. In addition, our recently published research demonstrated that a decade of cuts has also had a huge impact on local authority spending on museums which means that museums across the country are facing a long road to recovery.

“We continue to believe that the sector as a whole will need ongoing public investment in the years to come in order for museums to deliver for their communities.”