Financial Settlements for Culture & Leisure 15/16 and beyond

52 local authorities responded to our survey in March, which aimed to establish the cumulative impact on culture and leisure budgets and gauge the general response to the challenges faced by the sector locally. 

The findings show that whilst cuts have been made, quite often the reductions have come hand in hand with solutions to save money or increase income.  The result is that the majority of culture and leisure services remain in a relatively healthy state, with services provided in a more focused way to support wider council outcomes. 

In summary the key findings from the Financial Settlements survey found that:

• Culture and leisure services continue to respond positively and effectively to reductions in budgets, and this is on top of significant reductions in the preceding years.

• The sector continues to seek ways in which to mitigate the impact of budget reductions. This is evidenced by:

o Greater commercialisation across the culture and leisure portfolio of services.

o Improved success in services being commissioned e.g. from the health sector

o Sport and leisure services moving increasingly to zero subsidy and other cultural service areas seeking to recover more costs through income/fees and charges;

• However, there is evidence of support for charges to remain low in some key areas e.g.  playing pitches/charges to voluntary sports clubs and for key groups e.g. the most vulnerable/young people, but the picture is variable.

• Alternative delivery models are helping to transform services with more co-location, more shared services (back office and/or front of house) and more partnering taking place with the third sector (asset transfers) and private sector (management of services and/or support in specific parts of delivery e.g. marketing)

• Whilst investment in buildings remains a challenge, the approach of fewer, better integrated facilities appears to be gathering momentum.

Iain Varah, Chair of cCLOA said  ”The survey has been shared with key agencies involved in the delivery of cultural and sport services and it is hoped that this will help shape and inform  their own policy developments.  Local government cultural and sport services play a vital and hugely cost effective role in supporting the wellbeing and economy of our communities and it is essential that they continue to evolve and where possible grow. We know that the pace of cuts for 2016/17 (and beyond) appears to be consistent with previous years, and therefore positioning of culture and sport at the heart of delivering outcomes remains of vital importance”.

You can download a copy of the full report here.