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Cash-strapped English Heritage forced into major cutbacks

The full extent of the latest tranche of cuts at cash-strapped English Heritage has been leaked to the AJ.

The desperately skint organisation has been forced into the cutbacks because of the on-going consequences of the three-year-old Comprehensive Spending Review, in which the government refused to increase funding in line with inflation.

An internal memo penned by chief executive Simon Thurley reveals details of the changes.

One of the moves to be taken will be to make four redundancies in 'senior management', which will apparently save the organisation £500,000.

Thurley writes: 'We are already committed to a stretching programme of efficiency savings, but this is not enough to cover current anticipated adjustments that need to be made to next year's budget. The Executive Board has therefore agreed [another] package of savings.'

These are the savings he outlines:

  • £400,000 from IT, by cancelling uncommitted project expenditure and limiting the use of contractors while preserving in-house capability;
  • £650,000 from the maintenance and conservation of properties. This budget will be restored once the Asset Management Plan is in place to ensure value for money;
  • £800,000 from the Historic Environment Enabling Programme; and
  • £1 million from the Planning and Development grants programme.
  • In a statement, English Heritage said: 'It is well known that since the early '90s English Heritage's grant in aid has not been increased in line with inflation. Since 2000 our grant in aid has reduced in real terms by £9.7 million.

    'Despite our long-term programme of efficiency savings and modernisation it has been necessary to make further budget savings in order to concentrate resources in the areas that are most important for the country's historic environment.

    'Our recent report to government, Valuing our Heritage, made a convincing case for investing in the historic environment. We hope the government will wake up to the potential of the country's historic assets and recognise their value to people's lives by giving English Heritage and the heritage sector the funding and support they deserve.

    'Funding discussions as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review between English Heritage and the DCMS are ongoing and we hope to have a settlement agreed by July 2007.'

    by Ed Dorrell

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