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DCMS closure rumours not true, says department

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The Department for Culture Media and Sport has denied rumours that discussions are taking place to potentially disband the department and “hive off” its responsibilities to other government divisions.

A spokeswoman for the department said there is “absolutely no truth” in comments made by shadow culture minister Dan Jarvis which claim the department is considering shutting the DCMS to save money.

Jarvis told The Stage: “There has been speculation from well-placed sources in Whitehall that, through the mechanism of the comprehensive spending review, one of the things the government could do to ‘save money’ is hive off parts of the DCMS to other departments.”

He said that conversations about the future of the department in its current form were “undoubtedly” taking place.

“It would be a mistake – a short-term gesture – to get rid of the department. For those of us that care about the arts, creative industry, libraries, museums and galleries, it’s important we make the case for having that highest level of representation at the cabinet table,” Jarvis added.

A report published last year by the Institute of Economic Affairs claimed that shutting down the DCMS “could save around £1.6 billion”.

Speaking at the time, Mark Littlewood, director general of the IEA, said: “If the government isn’t seriously considering closing down the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, then it should start doing so now. A major failure of its comprehensive spending review was that it sought to salami slice areas of public expenditure, rather than to eliminate certain programmes entirely.”

He recommended that any “residual regulatory functions” be “transferred to other departments”.

Jarvis disputed that closing the DCMS could save £1.6 billion. He claimed that the figure was based on stopping funds distributed to other organisations such as Arts Council England, which he said the government was unlikely to do.

A spokeswoman for the DCMS said: “Unsurprisingly, Dan Jarvis doesn’t know what he’s talking about. There is absolutely no truth in these rumours.

“In [the] Leveson [Inquiry] and equal marriage, DCMS is responsible for two of the government’s most politically complex policies, alongside delivering one of the government’s largest infrastructure projects – broadband. Alongside key areas such as the arts and the creative industries, the department’s responsibilities continue to expand and its role is more central than ever before.”

The next comprehensive spending review is due to be announced on June 26.

 

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