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English Heritage cash boost an 'insult' says Adam

The government pledges a £7 million funding hike to English Heritage, but architects tell the AJ the 'below inflation' increase is not enough

Classicist architect Robert Adam (pictured) has labelled the government’s ‘below inflation’ increase in funding to English Heritage – the first investment boost for the watchdog in a decade – as ‘insulting’.

Last week, Culture Secretary James Purnell announced a £7 million heritage spending boost to the baseline grant, from £123.7 million to £130.7 million by 2011.

Despite English Heritage’s grudging welcome of the announcement as ‘a reversal of 10 years of flat cash allocation’, Adam, a former advisor to the organisation, said: ‘It amounts to less than 5 per cent over the next three years, and in real terms it’s a reduction because it’s less than inflation.

‘Given the fact that the government has not increased its spending in 10 years it’s desultory – it’s insulting. What the government is really saying is we care more about bombing people in Iraq than our own cultural heritage.’

Adam’s criticisms were echoed by Paul Davis + Partners director and historic buildings specialist Calvin Bruce, who said: ‘No doubt English Heritage will be out celebrating their windfall, but a pay rise spread over three years after a 10-year run with no increase smacks a little of “jam tomorrow” – and rather thinly spread too.’

Bruce added: ‘If we are to value our built environment and the places we live in we need credible, informed and authoritative guidance and advice. An English Heritage starved of resources cannot fulfil the role it should have.’

But Alan Stanton, director at Stanton Williams, said the extra cash could spur a more positive relationship between the heritage body and architects.

Stanton said: ‘It would be nice to think that English Heritage will use some of this extra funding to improve its resources and promote a more creative engagement with the architectural profession.’

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