2024 Spring Budget: what this means for the arts

The Campaign for the Arts highlights wins and concerns around the 2024 Spring Budget, with tax reliefs, new investments, but also future promises.
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The Campaign for the Arts has completed an analysis on the latest UK 2024 Spring Budget revealed by the Chancellor for the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, and its implication for the arts.

The analysis highlights the welcomed tax reliefs and new investments, but says ‘the pressures on local councils’ funding now, and the prospect of further public spending cuts over the next five years, are major causes for concern’.

Tax reliefs

The Campaign for the Arts highlights that eight creative industry tax reliefs were introduced between 2007 and 2017, which allowed eligible companies to pay less Corporation Tax when producing an array of screen entertainment, performances and exhibitions across the UK.

In the newest Budget, tax relief for theatre productions, orchestral concerts and museum/gallery exhibitions will be set permanently at 40 to 45% from April 2024. While this is 5% lower than the current tax relief offered, it is a staggering 20% higher than previous standard rates, providing a dose of relief to the sector.

There will also be a 5% increase in tax relief for UK visual effects costs, and a new tax credit for independent films in the UK with budgets under £15 million. The Government will also fund an extension of the National Film and Television School, and give eligible film studios in England 40% relief on business rates.

New investments

Across the UK, new investments are being introduced, including £100 million of “levelling up” funding (including for the British Library North, National Railway Museum and National Museums Liverpool), £10 million for the West Midlands and £10 million for Perth and Dunfermline.

A further £26.4 million will be going to the National Theatre, £5 million for village halls and £1.6 million for Theatr Clwyd, supporting cultural infrastructure.

However, the Campaign for the Arts pointed out that funding support for councils is still lacking, and the Government will not consider its wider approach to funding cultural infrastructure until after the general election (to be held no later than 28 January 2025).

Read: ‘The arts are not the cherry on the cake – they are the cake,’ says Melvyn Bragg

In addition, the 2024 Spring Budget effectively offered no change on post-election spending plans, which will result in spending cuts of around 3.3% per year between 2024/25 and 2028/29 in real terms according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Local government is historically the biggest public funder of the arts in the UK, but has been hard hit with a 40% real-terms cut in central government grants over the 2010s. Since 2010, English councils have almost halved per-person spending on culture, heritage and libraries.

The Campaign for the Arts also posed the question on Arts Premium, which has announced four years ago by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Arts Premium proposed millions of pounds of funding for arts education, as well as a 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge, that is yet to be delivered.

Arts education is in an urgent state of crisis in the UK, with a 47% decline in arts enrolment at General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and 29% at A-level since 2010.

Celina Lei is an arts writer and editor at ArtsHub. She acquired her M.A in Art, Law and Business in New York with a B.A. in Art History and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne. She has previously worked across global art hubs in Beijing, Hong Kong and New York in both the commercial art sector and art criticism. She took part in drafting NAVA’s revised Code of Practice - Art Fairs and was the project manager of ArtsHub’s diverse writers initiative, Amplify Collective. Celina is based in Naarm/Melbourne and was most recently engaged in consultation for the Emerging Writers’ Festival and ArtsGen. Instagram @lleizy_