Press release

Government seeks views on scheme to encourage gifts of pre-eminent objects and works of art to the nation

Government publishes proposals for consultation on a scheme to encourage people to donate pre-eminent objects or works of art to the nation.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The Government has published proposals for consultation on a new scheme to encourage people to donate pre-eminent objects or works of art to the nation. In return, donors will receive a reduction in their tax liability, based on a set percentage of the value of the object they are donating. 

Donating an object or work of art to the nation means that it will remain in the UK, bolstering our heritage and benefitting the public. It also allows the Government to ensure that it is made available to people who wish to see it and is maintained in good condition.

Justine Greening, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said:

This year’s Budget saw the most radical and generous reforms in this area for more than twenty years.  We want to make it easier for people to give in a range of ways and at different stages in their life, whether through the charity bucket, by volunteering their time, through legacy giving or by lifetime donations of works of art or historical objects to the nation.  In this way, we hope to create a culture of philanthropy across society.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said:

Philanthropy already underpins the cultural life of the nation, and I am grateful to all those who give their time and money to our arts and heritage. The donation of objects which enhance our public collections is equally important, and Government wants to encourage people to give pre-eminent objects to the nation. With increasing international competition and a very strong art market, the UK faces a challenge in securing new acquisitions which are essential to ensuring collections remain relevant, educational and attractive to the public. I urge all those with an interest in our culture and heritage to work with Government to ensure the success of this new scheme.

The Government is seeking views on a number of areas of detailed policy design for the scheme and welcomes submissions from all interested parties. The consultation runs from today until 21 September 2011. 

Notes for editors

  1. The consultation can be found at

  2. The Government is seeking views on a number of areas of detailed policy design still to be developed. These are:

    • who will be eligible to apply for the new scheme;
    • how to define pre-eminent and how these objects will qualify for the new scheme;
    • how acceptance of offers will work;
    • which institutions will be eligible to receive objects;
    • how objects should be allocated to institutions;
    • what conditions should attach to objects allocated to institutions;
    • how the tax reduction should be calculated, including the rate of reduction which should apply per donated object; and 
    • whether there should be a cap on the amount of tax reduction per object or per donor.
  3. The scheme is designed to complement the separate Budget announcement of a reduced rate of inheritance tax where at least 10% of a person’s net estate is left to charity on their death.

  4. Budget 2011 announced a package of measures which encourage philanthropic and charitable giving across the whole of society and at all life stages:

    • under the new Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme, to be introduced in April 2013, the Government will pay charities a Gift Aid style payment on up to £5,000 of small donations of money made without a Gift Aid declaration. This will reduce the administrative burdens on charities, supporting smaller charities in particular;
    • from April 2011 the upper limit on benefits that charities may provide to Gift Aid donors will be increased from £500 to £2,500 to enable charities to better recognise the contributions of their largest donors;
    • for deaths occurring from 6 April 2012, a reduced rate of inheritance tax (IHT) of 36% will apply where 10% or more of a deceased’s net estate (after deducting IHT exemptions, reliefs and the nil-rate band) is left to charity; and
    • the subject of this consultation, to consult in summer 2011 on proposals to encourage donations of pre-eminent objects of works of art, in return for a tax reduction.

Non-media enquiries should be addressed to the Treasury Correspondence and Enquiry Unit on 020 7270 4558 or by e-mail to

Media enquiries should be addressed to the Treasury Press Office on 020 7270 5238.

Published 29 June 2011