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Editorial

Results of the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review 

Chancellor George Osborne announced the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review at 12.30 this afternoon, cutting the welfare budget drastically to reduce public spending by £81bn. The NHS, education infrastructure and green projects remained largely unaffected, and budgets for the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been saved from the spending cuts.

The chancellor confirmed that work on the Tate Gallery and British Museum was to be seen through to completion whilst £1bn has been committed to carbon-capturing and storing projects and wind farms across Britain.

Withdrawal of funding to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) it to have a profoundly negative effect on the operation of Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE). The DCMS provides CABE with an annual funding of £5m, but with dramatic cuts of 25% to its own budget post-Spending Review, the DCMS has been forced to cease funding to the independent organisation. The DCMS issued a statement saying: “Unfortunately the state of our public finances dictates that difficult choices had to be made. The most pressing need is to protect and maintain other parts of our culture and heritage. We shall continue to discuss future arrangements with CABE."

The social housing budget in England has been reduced by more than 50%. Commenting on this decision, Richard Parker, head of housing at PriceWaterhouseCoopers explains: “While the cuts look significant, none of this is a huge surprise. The cuts actually only take us back to the 2004-2007 spending levels. The challenge facing the Government now is how best to work housing grants harder, so they can continue to maintain supply at a reasonable level –particularly when there will also be less cross subsidy from outright sales and planning gain.”

He continued: “The Government is committed to building 150,000 affordable homes over the next four years. This equates to 37,500 new homes a year – which should be achievable if the Government can better align the £4bn of grant funding to other capital contributions including public sector land.”

English Heritage has experienced cuts of 32% to its Government grant, considerably more than that of DCMS whose overall cuts total 25%. Baroness Andrews OBE and Chair of English Heritage commented: “The 32% cut to English Heritage's grant from government will be exceptionally challenging to manage after years of funding decline - £130 million real-term cuts over 13 years. It will require us to make some tough decisions. We are pleased that the Listed Places of Worship Scheme will continue, albeit reduced, providing support for the congregations caring for historic places of worship and we will work hard over the coming months to minimise the impact on heritage of cuts to other sources of public funding.”

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Editorial

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