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Government responds to New English Heritage Model

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published its response to the English Heritage New Model Consultation.

600 responses were received by the January deadline for this major DCMS consultation.  222 came from organisations including 66 Local Authorities, and 34 from The Heritage Alliance and its members. 192 came from individuals and the remainder were unidentified. 60% agreed or strongly agreed with the main recommendation to split the existing body.

The Government document outlines the main concerns raised by respondents: these, for the new charity, centred on the inadequate financial information given in the consultation document, the short timeframe for self-sufficiency, increased competition, and whether the charity would retain the function of owner of last resort. In response the Government having re-tested the assumptions, has published more detail concluding that the financial self-sufficiency is realistic and will not be at the expense of Historic England. The function of owner of last resort will be retained. Contingency plans and an annual reporting process are clarified.  The suite of governance documents will contain provisions around public access, free educational visits, support for new acquisitions and maintenance, repair and conservation as well as financial targets. A public consultation is expected to review the new charity well before the end of the eight year period.

On Historic England, respondents focussed on future funding, more responsive services, and the importance of the grant and capacity building function. Accepting these points, it states that ‘Government and the Commission are committed to continuing the services which are clearly highly valued including research, access to data and archives, technical advice, capacity building, grants and support for heritage at risk’. Government also confirms there will be no reduction the Commission’s budget for 2014-5 and 2015-6. It also expressed ‘the expectation that future governments would want to take into consideration the new model in making funding allocations’. Government plans a Triennial Review to review the role function and needs of Historic England in more detail in 2016-7.

See the full response from DCMS.