Cultural bias? Nearly 98% of senior DCMS civil servants based in London…

Capital also takes £26 per head of key arts funding – double the amount for the region with the next largest proportion of funding per head.

The figures released to parliament will reignite the debate about devolution, spending and whether the UK and in England in particular is over-centralised and focused on London to the detriment of the other parts of the country.

Sheffield Heeley Labour MP Louise Haigh uncovered the statistics about senior civil servants at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through a written parliamentary answer.

Ed Vaizey, a DCMS minister, responded: “On 1st March 2016, 97.8% of senior civil servants and 98.7% of core policy civil servants employed by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were based in London.”

Mr Vaizey also replied to a separate written parliamentary question from Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, with the Liberal Democrat MP asking how much per capita Arts Council England is spending in each region in 2015-16.

Mr Vaizey released the following table outlining ACE investment by region, and spend per head in 2015/16:

2015-16 YTD TOTAL Spend per head
East £35,558,838 £5.91
East Midlands £28,393,349 £6.12
London £222,182,958 £26.02
North East £34,153,682 £13.04
North West £65,878,044 £9.24
South East £45,263,359 £5.10
South West £45,805,668 £8.45
West Midlands £70,442,158 £12.33
Yorkshire £58,586,846 £10.93

He also said: “In May, Arts Council England (ACE) announced they will increase the percentage of Lottery funding distributed outside London from 70% to 75% by the end of 2018; and invest over £35 million in the Ambition for Excellence fund – over £31 million of which will be spent outside London.

“There continues to be a shift in spending on National Portfolio funding away from London. In London, £26.02 is spent per head in 2015/16 – compared with £29.74 in 2009/10, when the Hon Member’s constituents in Yorkshire received £8.00 per head, compared with £10.93 this year.”

Of course, London is the biggest city in the UK and is an important national and international cultural hotspot – and it may not be as black and white. But the figures are none the less interesting and raise questions about funding for the regions at the very least…

 

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