Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) (arts 157)

1. Thank you for the opportunity to present evidence to this Committee.

The Institute for Archaeologists

2. The Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) is a professional body for the study and care of the historic environment. It promotes best practice in archaeology and provides a self-regulatory quality assurance framework for the sector and those it serves.

3. IfA has over 2,850 members and more than 60 registered practices across the United Kingdom. Its members work in all branches of the discipline: heritage management, planning advice, excavation, finds and environmental study, buildings recording, underwater and aerial archaeology, museums, conservation, survey, research and development, teaching and liaison with the community, industry and the commercial and financial sectors.

4. Furthermore, IfA is a member of the Heritage Alliance and the Archaeology Forum.

The Funding of the Arts and Heritage

5. The Institute is not submitting detailed evidence to this Inquiry but wishes expressly to endorse the evidence submitted by the Heritage Alliance (of which it is a member) and to emphasise, in particular, the far-reaching harm to the historic environment and loss of public benefit (as illustrated in the Alliance evidence) which would result from a reduction of public funding on such a scale as to undermine the crucial core functions with regard to the historic environment of DCMS, English Heritage and local authority historic environment services.

6. Indeed, local authority historic environment services play a key role in the efficient operation of the planning system and are responsible (through the operation of the planning regime) for the management of the vast majority (95% or more) of the archaeological resource which is undesignated. Even before the recession, cost-cutting measures had in some cases jeopardised the future of historic environment services and there are very real fears as to the survival of other such services in the light of the potential budget cuts now envisaged by many authorities. Although many of our members are local government officers and ALGAO members, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers for England (ALGAO: England) is perhaps best placed to provide detailed evidence as to the continuing threat to the future of historic environment services.

7. The reduction of funding to Defra and Natural England in relation to agri-environment schemes would also be likely significantly (and deleteriously) to impact upon the archaeological resource in rural settings.

8. Finally, and while we applaud the Committee’s consideration of such an important and pressing issue, the Institute is concerned that it may still be too early fully to assess the likely implications of the recession and of the financial measures necessary to address it. It is hoped that further consideration will be given to this matter in due course.

September 2010