In George Osborne’s eighth budget, which he revealed this morning, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer announced £5m for the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, an £81m project to create a Scottish satellite of the museum of design and decorative art. He invited cities in the north of England to bid to host a Great Exhibition of the North in 2018, which has already been allocated £20m. The city of Hull could be a contender; the 2017 City of Culture on the north-east coast will receive an extra £13m towards its big year. Also in the north, Sheffield gets £1m towards a new cultural space.
But a single institution in London will receive even more—the Royal College of Art will get £54m for its campus south of the Thames in Battersea.
Museums across England that do not charge for admission will be able to apply for a tax break currently enjoyed by national museums and university museums. Osborne is extending a scheme that allows institutions to claim back VAT (value-added tax) paid on most goods and services. The standard rate is 20%, which all adds up. Organisers of touring museum exhibitions may be able to reclaim VAT, too.
Osborne had good news for England's cathedrals and churches in need of major repair. A further £20m will supplement an existing fund marking the centenary of the First World War. In north Wales a small museum dedicated to Lloyd George, Britain’s great wartime leader during the conflict, will receive a £27,000 annual boost from 2017-18 to 2019-20. The museum in his childhood home was facing closure if the local council went ahead with a planned cut in funding by a similar amount.
The Chancellor also announced a further £3.5bn cuts in public spending in 2019-20, which will increase fears that some museums run by local authorities, or on their behalf by independent trusts, could face closure.