galleries free for everyone moved a step closer today as the treasury
published the list of bodies which will benefit from the VAT refund
scheme announced in the March Budget. The museums and galleries
public free admission to their permanent collections, removing the
VAT incentive for them to charge for entry. They include the British
Museum, the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the
Imperial War Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain,
Tate Modern, the British Library, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the
Royal Armouries, the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester,
and the National Museums and Galleries of Scotland, Wales and
Culture secretary Tessa Jowell said: 'Free access
to our national museums and galleries is one of the 25 steps to a
better Britain that the government has promised to deliver. As part
of our commitment to strengthen the role of the arts in our national
life, we want everyone to be able to enjoy the great collections in
our national museums and galleries for free.'
Financial secretary to the treasury, Paul Boateng, said: 'This much
sought after VAT reform is central to making free entry a reality,
and the undertakings received from the national museums and galleries
concerned will deliver this no later than December 1st.'
1. Organisations whose activities are undertaken for no charge are
not considered to be 'in business' for VAT purposes, and any VAT they
incur in relation to these activities cannot therefore be recovered.
For many national museums and galleries, VAT has previously created
an incentive for them to charge for admissions so that they can
recover the VAT which they incur on the things that they buy.
2. Under the new scheme announced in the Budget and legislated for
in the subsequent Finance Bill, all those main national museums and
galleries that allow free admissions will be refunded the VAT they
incur on their purchases, removing the incentive for them to charge.
3. Since the Budget, the department for culture, media and sport,
the ministry of defence and the devolved administrations have been in
consultation with the national museums and galleries they sponsor to
ensure that they take advantage of the new VAT scheme, and - where
necessary - move over to free admission.
4. The treasury has today laid before parliament an Order listing
the national museums and galleries which will be able to benefit from
the scheme. This includes both those bodies which do not currently
charge and those which plan to move to free admissions.
5. The scheme covers more than 24 different groups of museums and
galleries, spread over more than 50 different sites, more than half
of which are located outside London and the South East. The full list
of eligible bodies is below.
6. Eligible museums and galleries which do not currently charge
will be able to recover the VAT they have incurred from 1 April 2001
onwards. Other eligible museums and galleries will recover the VAT
they incur from the date that they move to free admissions.
7. The government's pre-election manifesto, Ambitions for Britain,
said it was 'committed to reform the VAT system' to ensure that the
main national museums and galleries were made 'free for everyone from
December'. 'Free access to national museums and galleries' was also
one of the '25 steps to a better Britain' promised in the manifesto.
8. The list of eligible groups of museums and galleries is below:
The British Museum
The Imperial War Museum (London and Manchester)
The National Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The Natural History Museum
The British Library (public exhibitions, etc.)
The Wallace Collection
The Manchester Museum of Science and Industry
Sir John Soane's Museum
The Museum of London
The Science Museum, including:
- The National Museum of Photography, Film and
- The National Railway Museum; and
- The National Coal Mining Museum.
The Tate Galleries (Tate Britain, Tate Modern and
The Victoria and Albert Museums, including:
- The Museum of Childhood; and
- The National Museum of Performing Arts
The National Maritime Museum
The National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside
The Geffrye Museum
The Horniman Museum
The Royal Armouries
The National Army Museum
The Hendon Royal Air Force Museum
The National Museums and Galleries of Northern
The National Museums and Galleries of Wales
The National Museums of Scotland
The National Galleries of Scotland