This is a difficult time for DCMS sectors, including our cultural and charitable organisations, given increased running costs. We remain firmly on their side. The Government have taken action to support such organisations with their bills, but my Department is continuing to engage with both cultural and charitable organisations to monitor the impact.
Thanks to the Government’s economic illiteracy and punitive welfare policies, cultural organisations are facing closure and millions are living in poverty. Cultural community groups and food banks almost entirely rely on donations to stay afloat and meet demand. Is it not an abdication of this Government’s duty—and unsustainable—to leave it to charitable donations from the public to fill gaps left by the state?
As someone who spent 16 years of their life working in the charity sector, I would say no. I think that charities have an amazing role to play within our communities, and we have been right behind them. During the covid pandemic, we provided more than £750 million for them, and, as I say, we are continuing to work with them to ensure that they have the support that they need.
The cost of living crisis appears to have caused the BBC to announce that some of the finest musicians in the world will lose their jobs. The BBC’s new strategy for classical music plans to “deliver savings” by axing the world-famous BBC Singers, the only full-time professional choir in the UK, and making 20% redundancies in all BBC orchestras. These plans have been described as
“a dark and shocking day…for the world of choral music” and “cultural vandalism”.
I urge the Minister and the Secretary of State to support the call on the BBC to reconsider the devastating and damaging decision to disband the BBC Singers and make 20% of jobs redundant in all of its orchestras.
As the hon. Lady will know, of course, the BBC is operationally independent, but my colleagues in the Department regularly meet the BBC, and I am sure they will be happy to raise many of the issues that she has just brought to the House.