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PROMISE OF FREE MUSEUMS MOVES CLOSER

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The government's commitment to making Britain's national museums and ...
The government's commitment to making Britain's national museums and

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

featured on the list will receive VAT refunds when they allow the

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

Northern Ireland.

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.'

DETAIL

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

Television;

- The National Railway Museum; and

- The National Coal Mining Museum.

The Tate Galleries (Tate Britain, Tate Modern and

Tate Liverpool)

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

Ireland

The National Museums and Galleries of Wales

The National Museums of Scotland

The National Galleries of Scotland

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