What Might Be Cut in English Heritages’ £121m Loss of Funding

Posted on June 27, 2013

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Yesterday it was announced that English Heritage was getting the ax and the government was cutting all funding. This was put with a slightly nicer spin of look at the good bye money we are sending. The press release is pretty bad but it does state that,

‘Under current plans, the new charity will be set up by March 2015.  It will retain the name English Heritage and in due course, will be completely self-financing and no longer need tax-payer support’

‘The new arrangement will also greatly benefit English Heritage’s planning and heritage protection responsibilities, which will be known as the National Heritage Protection Service – until a friendlier title is chosen. This will continue to use its statutory powers, advice, research and awareness-raising to protect England’s heritage at large – the very stuff of our historic streets, villages, towns, cities, our ancient archaeological remains and even the heritage beneath our coastal waters.’

So the plan is to spin off EH into a charity (a National Trust clone as someone put it) but split off the heritage protection into its own department???? entity??? something else.  It is not exactly clear who will pay for the National Heritage Protection Service.

Commission, the current governing body appointed by DCMS, will run the National Heritage Protection Service and will licence the English Heritage charity to run the National Heritage Collection.

Does that mean that the government will still pay for the NHPS? Looking at the EH 2011/12 budget of  £175.4m we see that £121.4m comes from the government. As I discussed yesterday that is a lot of money to make up for if the government withdraws support. Looking the budget we see that EH spends it as follows:

Grants £31.4m

Heritage Protection and Planning £32.7m

National Collections: £73m

Corporate and Support Services £26.8m

Depreciation costs £6.2m

So what is going to get cut with the £121.4m loss in government funding? Well best case scenario is that the  National Heritage Protection Service will be funded by the government. That would mean that they take on the £32.7m of Heritage Protection and Planning (Designation and Listing, Heritage Protection and Managing the Historic Environment). They would also take on a portion of the Corporate and Support Services which are things like HR and office supplies. That leaves about £80m of government funding in other services that the new EH charity might need to take on. £80m, as in the amount that the government is giving the new EH as a goodbye gift. I guess I now know how they got that amount.

Currently EH spends £73m on running the properties and caring for collections and brings in £54m from admissions (15.4) rental and catering income (12.6) membership income (19.7m) other (4.4) donations/grants (1.9). Looking at those sources of income it looks like that all of the income will go to the new EH that will look after the collections. However that is £54m in income against £73m in costs for collections, a shortfall of £19m. That does not even take into the account of the new EHs share of office and depreciation costs which could be an additional £10-15m.

My guess is that new EH will be able to raise some funds but will end up cutting access or staffing to most sites to make up that £19-30m shortfall.

That also leaves grants at £31.4m without any funding sources. Currently £3.4m of grants are spend on Historic Environment which might go with the new National Heritage Protection Service, ASSUMING the government takes up that tab. That still leaves about £28m in grants for things like places of worship (7.2m), buildings and monuments (11.2m), conservation areas (2.3) and other grants (5.6m) in funding that needs to be found.

So what does the future look like? My guess is that grants are either going to be scraped or significantly reduced to near zero. I am guessing to save money the new EH will change both salary scales and pension plans as they will no longer be on a civil service plan. In other words, EH staff will be paid less. At the same time the sites open will be reduced and so will the times open for most sites. It will be a rough couple of years ahead for heritage in England.