Arts Council

Government tax scheme accepted £58.6m in cultural items last year, Arts Council reveals

Article: David Styles | Image: A pair of Chippendale pier tables and pier glasses donated to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme © Victoria and Albert Museum

Arts Council England’s 2018/19 Cultural Gifts Scheme and Acceptance in Lieu Annual Report has revealed that 46 cases were settled last year, amounting to a total of £58.6 million tax settlements.

This is the highest figure gathered through the respective initiatives since their inception back in 2013.

Figures for the last twelve months show that the total tax settlement value received through the Cultural Gifts and Acceptance in Lieu schemes exceeded £30 million for the very first time. The number of items, too, was at a record high in the Cultural Gifts Scheme.

The schemes

Cultural Gifts Scheme allows UK taxpayers to donate important cultural works to the nation in exchange for receiving a tax reduction (based on a set percentage of the donated objects’ value)

Acceptance in Lieu enables UK taxpayers to settle Inheritance Tax or one of its earlier forms by offering important works to the nation

Both schemes are administered by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

“This past year has been record-breaking for the Acceptance in Lieu and Cultural Gifts Schemes,” noted Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England. He went on to describe the tax schemes as “two hugely important ways for exceptional works of art, objects, manuscripts and archives to enter public collections throughout the country – making a valuable contribution to local communities and enjoyed by millions.”

Submissions via the tax recovery mechanisms in 2018/19 included paintings, sculptures, ceramics, prints, furniture, archives, manuscripts, and a 17th-century manor house.

Wretched War (2004) by Damien Hirst | Bronze sculpture donated to the Cultural Gifts Scheme © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2019
Letter from Clement Attlee to his brother Tom, 24 Oct 1916 | Photo: Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford

Nicky Morgan, recently appointed culture secretary, said it was thanks to such schemes that “hundreds of objects and works of art of national importance are seen and enjoyed by the public every day”. She added: “donors are not only ensuring that their items will be appreciated for generations but also giving smaller and regional institutions across the UK the chance to receive and display important works.”

Cultural Gifts Scheme highlights

Items donated to the Cultural Gifts Scheme last year included:

  • A rare collection of Islamic ceramics from Gurgan, a city near the Caspian Sea destroyed by the Mongols in 1220-21
  • A platinum and diamond necklace, in its original case, made in the early 20th century by pre-eminent jewellery designer Cartier
  • Wretched War, a bronze sculpture depicting a pregnant woman by Damien Hirst

Acceptance in Lieu highlights

Items donated to the Acceptance in Lieu scheme last year included:

  • An oil painting by Bernardo Bellotto, depicting Venice on Ascension Day
  • Six archives including those of Labour politicians Tony Benn and Clement Attlee
  • A pair of George III pier tables and glasses by Thomas Chippendale
  • Two leaves from Charles Darwin’s autograph manuscript of On the Origin of the Species
  • Three paintings by Roelandt Savery, Michele Marischi and Francesco Guardi

2014, the year after the schemes were brought in, it was decreed that individuals’ allowances would be increased. This no doubt has fuelled the rise in uptake, with record numbers of items flowing through the system last year. 86% of the items received last year have been allocated to institutions outside London.

“It is heartening,” Edward Harley, chair of the Acceptance in Lieu Panel, concluded, “to see that the list of first time allocatees continues to grow and that it has been a bumper year for high value items going outside the capital.”

A copy of the full report is available here.