The government has today (Monday 18 August) announced plans to extend the VAT refund scheme which helps museums and galleries with the costs of providing free access to the public.
Free museums are a cornerstone of the government’s cultural policy. Admitting the public free of charge normally means a museum cannot recover VAT on its purchases.
The VAT refund scheme for named museums and galleries supports institutions which allow free public access to their collections, by letting them reclaim VAT on costs associated with those collections.
Under the extension, the V&A Museum of Design, Dundee and Embrace Arts – the University of Leicester’s art centre – will now be added to the order which lists institutions that can access the scheme.
The order will also be updated so that the National Coal Mining Museum for England, which was previously included as part of the Science Museum, is now listed as a separate institution.
Around £60 million of support is provided through the VAT refund scheme each year to around 60 major UK institutions which are responsible for approximately 120 qualifying museums and galleries.
Discussing the decision to extend the scheme, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, said:
This is great news for the V&A Museum of Design, Dundee which will be the first ever design museum to be built in the UK outside London.
Through this scheme, the UK government will be able to support the museum in showcasing Scotland’s design heritage to the world, as well as hosting touring exhibitions from the V&A.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, added:
The UK’s museums and galleries are a source of great education and interest, attracting visitors from all over the world.
The government is committed to supporting them and ensuring they can be accessed by as many people as possible, through the VAT refund scheme.
Extending the scheme will support more museums and galleries to open their doors, free of charge, for the public to enjoy them.
Image by Reinhold Behringer on Flickr. Used under creative commons.