HomeResourcesPolicyCultural Policy Readout / 24 August 2020

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport publishes criteria for £270m repayable finance scheme

DCMS has published guidance to help some of Britain’s largest cultural venues apply for £270 million in repayable cultural finance, the loans are a part of the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. Applicants will be assessed against a cultural and economic criterion, outlined in guidance published by Arts Council England, which include efficiencies made to date and ongoing viability for the future. Organisations will also need to demonstrate national or international significance and opportunities to engage their local communities through education and outreach. Organisations will be able to apply for funding in excess of £3 million, with a payment term of up to 20 years, and an initial repayment holiday of up to four years and a 2 per cent interest rate per annum. Arts Council England will review applications, with input from other arm’s length bodies including the British Film Institute, Historic England, and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Decisions will be taken by the independent Culture Recovery Board, chaired by Sir Damon Buffini.

Arts jobs crisis looms as vacancies fall faster than any other UK sector

According to the Stage, job opportunities in the arts have disappeared faster than any other sector of the UK economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, vacancies have dropped by 87 per cent compared with this time last year. The figures have triggered fears of a major employment crisis in the arts, a sector already decimated by the pandemic, as redundancies continue to increase, the freelance workforce struggles and venues face uncertainty about when they will be able to reopen fully. In the three months between May and July, the Office for National Statistics said there were just 3,000 vacancies in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry, down 87 per cent on the same period last year, when there were 23,000. Shadow arts minster Tracy Brabin MP said the storm facing the employment in the cultural industries was “becoming a tsunami”. On Twitter, Brabin expressed concern that the government’s arts package would not be distributed quickly enough to stem job losses, and that the possibility for organisations to adapt would be set back by the loss of crucial talent.

UK risks exodus of talent from creative sector due to COVID-19

According to the Guardian, the UK risks an exodus of talent from the creative industries, as leading arts organisations and industry bodies call on the chancellor to extend financial support for freelancers until 2021. Indoor live performances in England could continue from 15 August as part of the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. But, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and performing arts union Equity, fear venues will struggle to reopen because smaller audiences mean less profit from ticket sales. They are asking for the Treasury’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), to run until spring 2021 – far beyond its current cut-off date of 19 October.

Covid Update

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the total UK government debt has exceeded £2 trillion for the first time. That means the government now owes more than the entire value of the country’s economy for the first time in 60 years. Economists have stated this reflects the magnitude of the government’s efforts to tackle the pandemic and warned it will get worse before it gets better, The government now owes the equivalent of 100.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) – the total value of all the goods and services produced by the UK economy. The government borrowed £26.7 billion in July, down from £29.5bn in June, as the pandemic took its toll on the national purse.

The government’s five-month ban on landlords evicting tenants in England and Wales ends this weekend, prompting calls for further protection. Starting 24 August, courts will resume cases put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis, the BBC reveals. Further assistance is planned to be extended until March in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In England, tenants are getting a minimum of three months’ notice of eviction, a timeframe ministers could extend. Only after this notice period is up can the courts hear a case. During the ban, eviction notices have been served but court decisions have been halted.

Brexit Update

Speaking after the seventh round of trade talks, EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said a post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and the EU “seems unlikely” at this point. The EU has stated it would like to agree a deal by October so the deal can be approved by the European Parliament before the post-Brexit transition period expires. This is to prevent the UK trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. That would result in most UK goods being subjected to tariffs until a free trade deal was completely ratified. Barnier’s counterpart, Mr Frost, said it was “unnecessarily difficult to make progress” because the EU continues to insist that differences over state aid and fisheries have to be resolved before “substantive work can be done in any other area of the negotiation, including on legal texts”. Mr Frost said the UK was seeking a deal which “ensures we regain sovereign control of our own laws, borders, and waters”. “When the EU accepts this reality in all areas of the negotiation, it will be much easier to make progress,” he said. The next round of talks is due to begin on 7 September in London

Whitehouse Consultancy

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