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Spending Review: DCMS admin budget to be cut by 20 per cent

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Leisure services supported by public funding are facing significant challenges after it was announced that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) administrative budget is to be cut by 20 per cent over the next four years, with the department's overall budget falling 5 per cent.

Delivering the Autumn Statement and Spending Review today (25 November), chancellor George Osborne said the review forms part of government department cuts being made to eradicate the UK’s budget deficit by 2019-20.

Although higher than cuts to several other departments, the 20 per cent cut to the administrative budget for DCMS and 5 per cent overall budget cut is lower than expected, with initial fears that the figure could be as high as 40 per cent.

Osborne said deeper cuts to DCMS would be a “false economy” due to the revenue its industries help to generate. He added that the Arts Council’s budget will be protected, and free museum entry will be maintained.

He also announced a 29 per cent increase for UK Sport to help Britain’s athletes “go for gold” at 2016 in Rio.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale welcomed the 'settlement' – which is thought to have been the subject of strong negotiations – and welcomed investment for VisitEngland.

"This is an excellent settlement that highlights the great contribution of our sectors in creating jobs and helping grow the economy," said Whittingdale.

"The extra £40m for English tourism will boost visitor numbers in towns and cities, our national museums will remain free to enter and we will continue to preserve our cherished heritage sites for generations. Our continued investment will also help support the artists and sports stars of tomorrow."

Osborne also confirmed plans to give new powers to local authorities for setting business rates and spending their proceeds. The move has previously been described by Tourism Society director Kurt Janson as likely to lead to an “even more fragmented and patchy tourism landscape,” with tourism hotspots in rural areas and seaside destinations with even bigger investment problems than they currently face.

For apprenticeships, the chancellor announced a new levy for employers that he said will raise £3bn a year. Osborne said the levy will be set at 0.5 per cent of the payroll bill. But added there will be a £15,000 allowance, so 98 per cent of employers will not pay.

Osborne revealed that NHS funding is to rise from £101bn this year to £120bn by 2020-21 – a measure ukactive executive director Steven Ward said should be used to invest in physical activity services to avoid the ‘acceptance of short termism’ and build the foundations for a healthier nation in future.

“While we accept difficult decisions need to be made, there remains a critical need to look to the future and to never accept short-termism, especially when it comes to planning for our nation’s health,” said Ward.

“The extra income pledged today for the NHS will not make a dent in the health of the nation unless prevention, and physical activity, is at its heart.”

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Leisure services supported by public funding are facing significant challenges after it was announced that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) administrative budget is to be cut by 20 per cent over the next four years, with the department's overall budget falling 5 per cent.
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