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Autumn Statement 2015: Charities

What a confusing week!

In the build up to today you could be forgiven for thinking that the sector was going to be severely affected by savage cuts in government spending. Yet at first sight charities have done rather well, or perhaps not as badly as you may have originally thought.

There were several high profile announcements but little detail behind them.

Rumours that the Arts Council budget was to be cut by up to £350 million and replaced by a raid on the National Lottery appear at first sight to be wide of the mark, with arts funding remaining at current levels.

The museum and gallery sector may initially seem to have benefitted. Some national museums are receiving funding for major projects, but whether this is at the expense of local and regional museums we will have to wait and see. The possibility of a new tax relief for museums and galleries sounds promising, but again we have no detail.

In the education sector – Sixth Form Colleges will be allowed to convert to academies and take advantage of the VAT benefits that brings. This is all part of the Government’s policy to encourage educational establishments to leave the bosom of local authorities. And whilst we are talking about VAT, the Chancellor, always alive to a publicity opportunity, has promised to donate the proceeds of the so called “tampon tax” to women’s charities. This will involve the setting up of a fund worth £15 million per year – the equivalent of the VAT collected on sales of sanitary products each year.

There were several announcements concerning business rates, but there is still uncertainty as to whether existing charity reliefs will continue.

So on the surface there were a number of positive announcements, although many of them targeted at specific charities or sectors. We will have to wait and see what this means for those charities who are not the recipients of the Chancellor’s largesse. The devil, as they say, is in the detail.

SB sign off