SPENDING REVIEW: Big Lottery Fund safe, Cabinet Office faces cuts

A feared raid on the Big Lottery Fund failed to materialise as the Chancellor delivered the Autumn Statement and spending review this afternoon, but the Cabinet Office faces a 26 per cent budget cut.

Additional funding for charities has been announced via redirecting revenue raised from bank fines and offsetting VAT on sanitary products. Further funds have been set aside for the National Citizen Service, and there is additional support for Social Impact Bonds.

Fears emerged over the past week that some £320m would be cut from the Big Lottery Fund, redirected to pay for initiatives funded out of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport budget.

However, Chancellor George Osborne said deep cuts to the DCMS budget are a “false economy”. Although it faces a 20 per cent cut to core administration funding, increased funds will be provided to the Arts Council, national museums and galleries, and BBC World Service.

“And all of this can be achieved without raiding the Big Lottery Fund as some feared,” Osborne said. “It will continue to support the work of hundreds of small charities across Britain.”

Osborne announced a 26 per cent cut to the Cabinet Office budget. Some of the savings will come from the Office for Civil Society, which documents show sees a reduction in headcount.

Meanwhile, the Charity Commission’s budget has been frozen at £20.3m per year until 2019/20.

Osborne announced that £15m, the equivalent to the annual VAT raised on sanitary products, will be directed to spending on women’s support charities. The funding will continue over the course of this parliament or until EU rules are amended to enable the UK to apply a zero rate of VAT for sanitary products.

The fund will make an initial £5m donation to support The Eve Appeal, SafeLives, Women’s Aid and The Haven. Further donations and recipients will be announced at Budget 2016.

The Chancellor also announced the Government has committed £25m of banking fines over the next three years to support charities and good causes.

Funding includes £4.7m to Guide Dogs for Military Veterans, £2m to trial a pioneering surgical procedure to improve the quality of life of military amputees, £1.6m for SkillForce, and up to £1.5m in match funding for the Evening Standard and Independent Christmas appeals for Great Ormond Street Charity.

“We’ll renovate our military museums – from the Royal Marines and D-Day Museums in Portsmouth, to the National Army Museum, to Hooton Park aerodrome, and the former headquarters of RAF Fighter Command at Bentley Priory,” Osborne said.

Support for Social Impact Bonds will be expanded to provide £80m of the £105m total across government over the parliament, funding locally designed schemes tackling issues such as youth unemployment, homelessness, and mental health.

The announcement confirmed reforms to Business Rates, to allow local government to keep all the revenue raised through the levy and cut rates to encourage business. However, uncertainty remains around the future of Business Rates relief for charities with a review on Business Rates not due to report until Budget 2016.

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