Boost for free entry at UK museums in the budget

Patrick Steel, 16.03.2016
Funds for V&A in Dundee, Lloyd George Museum, and Being Brunel
The chancellor George Osborne announced a number of measures to benefit museums in today’s budget, including an extension of museum VAT refund eligibility to support free museums across the UK.

The budget will also see tax relief for temporary and touring exhibition costs from April 2017, and funds for museums including the V&A in Dundee, the Lloyd George Museum in Gwynedd, and Being Brunel, part of ss Great Britain.

The extension of museum VAT refund eligibility, which was previously only available to national and university museums and galleries, is now open to any museums or galleries that offer free entry without prior appointment and are open to the general public for at least 30 hours per week.

It allows eligible museums to “claim back VAT incurred on most goods and services purchased in order to grant free rights of admission to collections”.

A consultation into the tax relief for temporary and touring exhibition costs will be launched this summer.

The budget awarded:

• £5m to the V&A in Dundee’s fundraising campaign.

• £27,000 of funding per year from 2017-18 to 2019-20 to the Lloyd George Museum in Gwynedd. The museum’s local authority funding has been cut from April 2017.

• £13m to Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

• £200,000 to We’ll Meet Again to establish a permanent interactive world war two museum in Lincolnshire.

• £659,000 to the Scottish Submarine Trust to establish a Museum of the Submarine Service in Scotland.

• £1m to Brooklands Museum to complete fundraising for the Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Race Track Revival Project.

• £1.23m to the British Mercantile Marine Memorial Collection to establish a unique collection of international maritime art in Hull.

• £14m to STEAMhouse in Digbeth, Birmingham, subject to the business case to establish a creative innovation centre bringing together arts and culture with science, technology, engineering and maths.

• £1m to support S1 Artspace to create an arts complex in Sheffield, subject to planning permission being granted.

• £620,000 to support Being Brunel, the National Brunel Project in Bristol at ss Great Britain.

• £1m to Bletchley Park Trust to establish an exhibition of the Turing-Welchman Bombe, which helped to break the Enigma cipher in world war two.

Other announcements that could benefit museums include a call for bids from northern cities and towns to host the £20m Great Exhibition of the North, £700m for flood defence and resilience, of which £150m will be invested in flood defence schemes in Leeds, Cumbria, Calder Valley and York.

The government will also invest up to £25m in flood defences in Carlisle once the Environment Agency has concluded a review of its needs, and will provide funding to support delivery of the final phase of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme in later years subject to business case approval.

The chancellor announced he had agreed a city deal for Cardiff that will see £500m of investment for the Cardiff Capital Region, and had opening negotiations on deals for Swansea and Edinburgh.

The government is also agreeing new mayoral devolution deals with the West of England, East Anglia and Greater Lincolnshire, and additional mayoral devolution deals with Greater Manchester and the Liverpool city region.

Transport infrastructure projects that received the green light include the High Speed 3 railway from Manchester to Leeds, Crossrail 2 in London, £161m for improvements to the M62, and £75m for other road link improvements in the North including the A66 and A69.

The government is also looking at the case for a tunnel road from Manchester to Sheffield.

Alistair Brown, the Museums Association's (MA) policy officer, says: “The MA has campaigned for a tax relief for touring exhibitions, and we are delighted to see this become a reality today.

"Equally, the VAT refund for free museums will be a boost for civic museums – and we also saw welcome funding boosts for a number of cultural projects around the country.

"However, there is nothing in this budget that changes the fundamental problem of diminishing local authority funding for museums. The MA will continue to advocate for a better financial settlement for museums across the country.”

Tweet us your thoughts on the budget @MuseumsAssoc


Updated to include the £1m award to Bletchley Park Trust.