The Spending Review will not lead to the “abolition” of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the culture secretary has reassured MPs.
As a non-ring fenced department, DCMS – which has an annual budget of £1.2bn – has been asked to produce plans for budget cuts of 25% and 40% by the Treasury ahead of the chancellor's Spending Review in November.
Appearing in front of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Wednesday afternoon, John Whittingdale told MPs that while the impact of expected reductions would be “difficult”, cuts would not lead to the department’s abolition.
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In response to a question put forward by committee chair Jesse Norman on whether planned reductions of an already “modest” budget and number of civil servants within the department would lead to its abolition, Whittingdale said there was “no danger”.
He said: “I don’t think there is any danger of DCMS disappearing. Although we are a small department, nevertheless we do a number of very important things. We are now responsible for 16% of GDP of this country in terms of the sectors the department covers, and, as you will already know, what we do do is very high profile and gets a lot of attention.”
However, Whittingdale said that the impact of spending cuts at the "upper end" of the modelling required by the Treasury could lead to some "very, very difficult decisions" for the department.
According to Whittingdale, this could include reducing the funding that goes to arm’s length bodies.
“The nature of the DCMS is that 97% of the money we receive goes straight out the doors again and it goes to arm’s length bodies. Inevitably if we have to pass on those kinds of reductions it’s going to require quite difficult decisions.”
However, the secretary of state stressed he would argue the case for his department.