Comprehensive Spending Review

Large sections of the public sector have long had their breath held in anticipation of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. The announcement was brought forward a bit, adding fuel to the rumour of a snap General Election. So now it’s official, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are getting an increase in their budget slightly ahead of inflation. They’ve passed on the equivalent rise to Arts Council England and now across the country a swath of Regularly Funded Organisations are waiting for the phone to ring.

We understand Arts Council England were asked to budget for three scenarios: a cut of 4% (Armageddon option), standstill (a tough scenario as it would mean a cut in real terms), or an inflation linked increase (standstill by a more attractive name). The rumour is that every scenario involves some companies being cut but the final scenario also means some companies gain. The newly savvy Stan’s Cafe has been lobbying hard and now fingers are crossed hoping that we’re on the up side of things (I refer you to the post of 17.10.07).

It will be a while before we know definitively what the score is. Despite having the three scenarios worked out in advance the A.C.E. process still seems painfully slow. Provisional notification will be in mid-December. That gives about four weeks for companies to go ballistic and lodge appeals (festive cheer in short supply no doubt). Then the regional council meets on 23rd January to confirm decisions and these final decisions are not confirmed until “early February” and come into effect barely seven weeks later at the start of the 2007/8 financial year.

Of course as a Regularly Funded Client we are expected to demonstrate prudent financial management and forward planning. Still, at least we’re in the mix coming into the home straight.


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