Equity calls on the government to invest in culture ahead of Autumn Budget

On 27 October, the Chancellor will set out in Parliament the government’s spending priorities over the next three years. Ahead of the Autumn budget, Equity has warned that UK culture funding falls way behind European levels. We have set out ten key demands, including recommendations to invest in culture and protect jobs.

Funding landscape

UK culture funding is very precarious. The latest Arts Index figures revealed that investment via public funding for the arts per head dropped by 35% since 2008.

Equity’s analysis of the funding levels across Europe found that UK spend on ‘cultural services’ as a percentage of GDP was the second lowest for all European countries at 0.2% (2019). The European average was 0.5% of GDP and countries such as Hungary and Iceland were as high as 1.1% (see table below).

Equity’s 10 demands

As part of our submission, we have called on the government to:

  1. increase UK government expenditure on ‘cultural services’ from 0.2% to 0.5% of GDP in line with average European levels
  2. extend and amend the Film & TV Production Restart Scheme through to 2022 at the least, and amend  the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme
  3. extend the 5% VAT rate for live event tickets and abandon the planned increase
  4. abandon the planned £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit, reverse the reintroduction of the Minimum Income Floor, extend the uplift to legacy benefits, and extend support to those on tax credits
  5. abandon the National Insurance Contribution increase for employees and the self-employed
  6. introduce a minimum income guarantee for creative workers
  7. deliver an equitable balance of funding, without cuts to established areas, through a restructured national, regional and local funding system, and establish a more inclusive artistically and socially based criteria for funding
  8. abandon the funding cut for art and design higher education courses in England
  9. provide an emergency funding package to compensate for additional costs creative workers face undertaking work in Europe
  10. ensure all publicly funded arts bodies have robust sustainability criteria to all project grant applications.

For more information you can read our full submission online.

Background

Eurostat Statistics, 2019: Total government expenditure for cultural services as a percentage of GDP

Estonia

1.1

Hungary

1.1

Iceland

1.1

Latvia

1

France

0.7

Croatia

0.7

Lithuania

0.7

Malta

0.7

Poland

0.7

Norway

0.7

Czechia

0.6

Denmark

0.6

Slovenia

0.6

Slovakia

0.6

European Union - 27 countries (from 2020)

0.5

Belgium

0.5

Luxembourg

0.5

Austria

0.5

Finland

0.5

Sweden

0.5

European Union - 28 countries (2013-2020)

0.4

Bulgaria

0.4

Germany (until 1990 former territory of the FRG)

0.4

Spain

0.4

Netherlands

0.4

Romania

0.4

Switzerland

0.4

Italy

0.3

Portugal

0.3

Ireland

0.2

Cyprus

0.2

United Kingdom

0.2

Greece

0.1