Inheritance Tax- Art Funding via the Government’s Big Society?

George Orsborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Most of the UK population will be examining this week’s budget over the next few days. Some of us will just conclude we are worse off. Others will try, at least for a few minutes, to make sense of how Osborne’s calculations and tax savings add up to financial rewards or major losses. The chancellor announced £540m worth of tax breaks for charities in his budget, including inheritance tax reforms designed to encourage UK citizens to leave a charitable legacy when they die. Is this just  an immediate attempt to revive the UK government’s faltering “Big Society” scheme ? Is it offering an alternative funding stream after charities are left penniless and local council grants are cut? I believe charity bosses and leaders from the arts world must welcome any drive for philanthropy if it helps. Aside, this may be the answer to culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s ambition of making philanthropic giving a more important strand of funding for the UK arts world.

The arts world has been pushing for tax reforms. For example, Sir Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate, welcomed the reforms saying such moves will make a real contribution to creating a culture of giving. This may be true but the act of giving remains deep in the shadow of public sector cuts to funding and a lost opportunity for creative professionals to work, contributing to the culture and economic growth of the UK during tough times. 

I hope organisations across the country will take advantage of these new provisions but  we need to see evidence of it working very well before we start praising Mr. Osborne. Let’s watch this space and see what happens!

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