Tuesday 2 March 2021 10:50 am

Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak to unveil £400m boost for culture and arts

Chancellor Rishi Sunak will this week provide additional support for Britain’s ailing arts and culture sector as businesses prepare for reopenings in the coming months.

In his Budget tomorrow, the chancellor will pledge £408m for museums, theatres and galleries to help them survive until the end of lockdown.

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Under the government’s plan for lifting coronavirus restrictions, cultural attractions will not be able to open until 17 May at the earliest. Many theatres have been shut since March last year.

Sunak is also set to announce a £150m pot to help communities take over their local pub, as well as granting a “significant chunk” of a £300m sports recovery package to English cricket.

The string of pre-Budget teasers came as former Conservative Party leader Lord Hague warned that taxes would have to be hiked to help rebalance the country’s finances following high levels of borrowing during the pandemic.

“It pains me to say, after spending much of my life arguing for lower taxes, that we have reached the point where at least some business and personal taxes have to go up,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Government borrowing is predicted to hit £394bn this financial year — the highest peacetime figure ever recorded.

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The chancellor is expected to announce a gradual increase in corporation tax over the coming years, though the changes are not expected to start until later in the year.

The move has received backing from shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, but is facing opposition from some Conservative MPs.

Other expected measures include an extension to the furlough scheme, business rates relief and reduced VAT for the hospitality sector.

Sunak said the UK’s culture sector was a “significant driver” of economic activity and employed more than 700,000 people across the country.

“I am committed to ensuring the arts are equipped to captivate audiences in the months and years to come,” he said.

As part of the funding package, an additional £300m will be pumped into the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund, which has already provided emergency support to a string of theatres, galleries and music venues.

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National museums and cultural bodies will also receive a £90m lifeline, while £18.8m will be provided for community cultural projects.

The funding boost is expected to result in an extra £77m for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.