The SoA welcomes the commitment to prioritise and protect spending on the arts in the Chancellor’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement.
Commitment to Culture
George Osborne has described the arts as ‘one of the best investments we can make as a nation’ and recognised this through an increase of £10 million a year in cash for Arts Council England for the term of the Parliament.
We have long argued for the valuable contribution of the arts and are delighted to see this recognised and rewarded at a national level. However we are concerned about the impact that local authority cuts will have on regional arts funding.
Lack of Library Provision
One striking omission is the lack of any mention of the public library service. Libraries are a vital service and are already under threat. They now face further damage because of cuts to local authority budgets confirmed in this review. If the Government is looking to ‘invest in Britain’s future’ then these key services must be maintained.
We welcome the protection to spending on education, although we are disappointed to see that the arts are not valued as highly here; investment in teaching of STEM subjects is not matched in arts and humanities.
We also note there are no provisions for school libraries, which we believe should be compulsory.
The withdrawal of the proposed cuts to tax credits are very welcome, as these would have affected many, particularly authors and other self-employed individuals.
However, we remain very concerned about the likely impact of Universal Credit, due to be rolled out as a replacement for all tax credits by 2021. In fact, the decision to raise ‘the individual threshold in the Minimum Income Floor for the self-employed in line with the NLW [National Living Wage] instead of the NMW [National Minimum Wage]’ presents a greater barrier for self-employed individuals.
We will analyse the details as they emerge and continue to lobby on all issues which concern authors.