Nationals to be allowed to access reserves

Chancellor expected to make announcement tomorrow
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Simon Stephens
National museums and galleries in England are expected to be allowed to access their reserves, set their own pay structures and opt out of government procurement procedures, under plans to be announced tomorrow by chancellor George Osborne as part of the spending round for 2015-16.

British Museum chairman of trustees Niall FitzGerald, speaking at the launch of the museum’s annual review this morning, said that the chancellor had a "personal commitment to cut the red tape that surrounds museums and galleries".

FitzGerald said that the changes "should, in time, allow us to make even more efficient use of public and private financial support by allowing us to manage it in a much more flexible and effective way".

The chancellor is also expected to remove the 1% annual limit on annual pay rises that currently exists.

Alan Leighton, national secretary at Prospect, said he was cautiously optimistic that the change might benefit some of the national museum and gallery staff that his union represents, although he wondered how much flexibility institutions would have in the light of further funding cuts.

The chancellor is expected to announce that national museum and gallery budgets will be cut by 5% for 2015-16.

"A 5% cut for 2015-16 on top of a cut of 24% over the past five years is not negligible and it is too soon to say how the museum will look to accommodate this cut," FitzGerald said at the British Museum. "But overall, the headline settlement is mildly encouraging."

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