English Heritage, Death of a Thousand Cuts- Actually, just 10

Posted on July 4, 2013


English Heritage just announced  the impact of the most recent spending cuts, a 10% reduction in their support from the government in 2015/16. English Heritage, bless their hearts, put a positive spin on the problem,

‘Last week the future of the National Heritage Collection was secured following the announcement of a one-off Government lump sum of £80 million. The money will fund investment in urgent repairs and enhancements and support English Heritage’s plan to form a charity to manage the Collection. A Charity will have more freedom to generate commercial and philanthropic income and eventually become self-financing. The National Heritage Collection of 420 historic sites and monuments includes Stonehenge, Kenwood, Dover Castle and Charles Darwin’s Home, Down House, in Kent. It is one of England’s most important collections of cultural treasures and the £80 million secures its future for the nation.

English Heritage’s responsibility for planning and heritage protection will remain the same.  The cut of 10% in our revenue funding for the year 2015/16 announced today (Wednesday 3 July, 2013) by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is very disappointing.

It takes them quite a while to get to the cuts but they are there. Unfortunately, the charity spin offs and budget cuts look like the swan song of national government heritage protection in England.

In case it is not clear here or in my past posts, none of my posts are meant as criticism of English Heritage. There are some amazing people doing some amazing work for English Heritage every day. All criticism is squarely aimed at those deciding the national budget. What I do present is the current climate and the challenges facing English Heritage/ new English Heritage and un-named other department. People are calling the government’s cuts a death by a thousand cuts but if you look at it, it will probably  be only ten before the government has absolutely crippled English Heritage/ EH descendents. Here is break down of government spending on EH (from annual reports) against inflation, both RPI and CPI, if it had kept the same levels of spending from 2000.

EH fall in gov grant

2012-13 and forward are projections based off of the 2010 budget cuts and the coming 10% cut in 2015/16. Inflation is based on in optimistic(some would say very optimistic based on past performance) range of 2% which is the Bank of England’s goal.  However, those numbers are slightly off as they had £114m projected in support in 2011-12 and the actual was £121m in government support. That projected loss results in less money given to EH than 15 years before. Inflation shows that this is a loss of around 50% in government support for heritage from 2000, almost all of it coming in about 8 years of static or cut budgets (see graph), 8 of our 10 cuts. What about the other 2 cuts? The cuts are not over. This recent 10% cut was only for the 2015-16 year because that is when the next election is due, budgets for the following years will be made after the elections.

edit- letter of exact cuts show grant will be 83m in 2015-16, I had them at 87m. So slightly lower than I estimated. Though come 2015-16 they may be up or down a little.

Guess what? Only 31% of the PLANNED spending cuts to reach the 2017-18 budget deficit goal have been undertaken. Everyone is expecting heavy cuts to occur after the election with ranges of £24-40 billion in additional cuts in 2016 and 2017. This last national budget cut for 2015-16 was only £11b which resulted in a 10% cut for EH, you do the math. Best case is only a 10% is cut for New EH (will be split up by then), assuming instead of 10% only 5% of every 10b in cuts comes out of New EH budget and only £24b in cuts. Worst case is that, like before, 10% is cut for every 10b and 40% is hacked out of the government spending on New EH and new regulatory body. So in 2017-18 the New EH government support could be anywhere from an optimistic £80m to £50m. While if support had followed inflation they should actually be receiving £170m (based on average between CPI and RPI). It you do the math that is a cut of 50-70% in support since 2000 from the government. In ten years of cuts, direct or through inflation, would have wiped out most of the funding for EH. That is not really death by 1000 cuts, that’s going for the heart.

But wait, EH will be part charity and can absorb these cuts, right? From EH comment on my last post about the subject.

‘Our press release obviously didn’t explain things well enough. At the moment, we have to use about £22 million of our annual grant-in-aid to support the National Heritage Collection but we are increasing the income we earn ourselves all the time and with the new freedom being a charity will bring it is absolutely possible that this part of English Heritage can become self-financing eventually. We don’t have to achieve this by 2015, that is when we start the charity and begin the process towards financial independence so not a scary timetable at all – and there is no plan to cut off state funding from the properties unless and until they achieve financial self-sufficiency. Worth saying that all existing EH staff who work on the properties will be transferred across to the new charity under their current terms and conditions.’

This means that the £50-80 the government is still putting into heritage in 2017-18 will still be supporting the National Collection. This could mean several possible things for New EH, one is that they are optimistic that they can make up the £22 million in government support in 4 years (not counting inflation) and when these cuts occur they will be self-sufficient. The other option is that the un-name new regulatory body will have to still support the collection and deal with the cuts across the board, crippling it and the EH charity. This means grants will be cut, probably to near zero, and staff will be cut as well in the new regulatory body. The other possibility is that New EH will not receive any support after the 2016-18 cuts kick in and they will be forced to reduce hours, raise prices, close sites and cut staff to make up the short fall,  the same will probably happen to the new regulatory body regardless.

As optimistic as the EH press releases are, running the numbers pretty much shows the EH is getting crushed in only about 8-10 cuts.

Numbers for graph-

RPI rpi gov grant cpi cpi gov grant total Gov grant
2000-01 2.50% 0.80% 145.8 115.2
2001-02 0.50% 115.776 1.20% 116.5824 139.7 107.9
2002-03 2.60% 118.7862 1.30% 118.098 153.6 115.2
2003-04 2.50% 121.7558 1.40% 119.7513 158.1 119.6
2004-05 3.20% 125.652 1.30% 121.3081 167.8 125.3
2005-06 1.80% 127.9138 2.10% 123.8556 167 125.1
2006-07 4.00% 133.0303 2.30% 126.7043 183.1 134.5
2007-08 3.70% 137.9524 2.30% 129.6185 178.6 129.4
2008-09 0.50% 138.6422 3.60% 134.2847 180.8 132.7
2009-10 2.00% 141.415 2.10% 137.1047 185.3 130.9
2010-11 4.10% 147.213 3.29% 141.6154 184.7 129.9
2011-12 4.10% 153.2488 4.48% 147.9598 175.4 121.2
2012-13 2.50% 157.08 2.83% 152.1471 103.36*
2013-14 2.00% 160.2216 2.00% 155.19 97.76*
2014-15 2.00% 163.426 2.00% 158.2938 96.96*
2015-16 2.00% 166.6946 2.00% 161.4597 87.264*
2016-17 2.00% 170.0284 2.00% 164.6889
2017-18 2.00% 173.429 2.00% 167.9827