Labour’s shadow culture minister, Dan Jarvis, has said that he believes the Department for Culture, Media and Sport could be scrapped as part of chancellor George Osborne’s comprehensive spending review, expected on 26 June.
Jarvis said that ‘well placed’ Whitehall sources had suggested a plan to scrap the department was being considered, with the various responsibilities of DCMS ‒ which include Arts Council England ‒ going to other departments.
He then asked culture secretary Maria Miller to deny that such plans existed ‒ via Twitter, a somewhat less official medium than a parliamentary question ‒ but was left unanswered by the minister.
However, a DCMS spokesman told CM: ‘There is absolutely no truth in these rumours. DCMS has just passed 21 successful years and its responsibilities continue to expand. The department is delivering successfully on Government priorities and its role is more central than ever before.’
Chancellor George Osborne wants to cut government spending for 2015/16 by £11.5bn, and announced on 28 May that he had found 20% of this figure through agreements with seven government departments. The chancellor has also pledged that the health, schools and foreign aid budgets would be ringfenced from cuts.
The DCMS is on neither list leading some to speculate that, since the DCMS leadership has not been vocal against further cuts to its budget (as some ministers have), it may not have a place in any future plans.
The New Statesman’s ‘Staggers’ blog, for instance, writes: ‘The department is not one of those ring-fenced from cuts, nor is Culture Secretary Maria Miller one of the cabinet militants (dubbed the “National Union of Ministers”) bidding to blunt Osborne’s axe. But an answer to this conundrum could be at hand: the DCMS may not exist at all after the review … the option appears to be back on the table.’