Assemblance, 2014, Umbrellium from the Barbican’s Digital Revolution exhibition

Museums and galleries tax relief deferred to next parliament

Patrick Steel, 02.05.2017
Relief removed from Finance Bill to allow it to pass before election
The Treasury has deferred a tax relief on new permanent, temporary or touring exhibitions at museums and galleries in order to pass the Finance Bill 2017 before the election on 8 June.

Jane Ellison, the financial secretary to the Treasury, said: "The bill is progressing on the basis of consensus and therefore, at the request of the opposition, we are not proceeding with a number of clauses."

A Labour spokesman said: “In March, the government published the largest ever finance bill containing complex and vast reaching measures – the general election drastically reduced the amount time for consideration of the bill.

“Labour worked constructively with the government to ensure as little disruption as possible and in June, a Labour government will bring forward a new finance bill.”

The relief, which would have allowed museums and galleries to claim up to £80,000 for non-touring exhibitions and £100,000 if the exhibition is toured, was included in the draft Bill following extensive lobbying by the Museums Association (MA) and the wider sector. It would have come into retrospective effect from April this year had the Finance Bill gone through unchanged.

The Treasury indicated that there had been no policy change and the government would legislate for the provisions at the earliest opportunity in the next parliament.

Sharon Heal, the MA’s director, said: “It’s a shame that the museums and galleries tax relief has been deferred to a new parliament as it would have potentially benefited many museums and galleries throughout the UK.

“I hope that the new government sticks to this commitment and that parliamentary time can be found as quickly as possible.”

But until the new government is in place there cannot be any certainty over the future of the provision, said Neil Adleman, a partner at Harbottle & Lewis LLP.

“A new government may want to legislate immediately, and it is possible we may see another Finance Bill by the summer, but it is equally possible we may see nothing until 2018,” he said.

“The worst case scenario is that the provision is lost altogether, but I think that would be seen as bad faith by the sector.”

Image: Assemblance, 2014, Umbrellium from the Barbican’s Digital Revolution exhibition


Article updated to include comment from the Labour Party.