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Government doesn’t understand us, says Imperial War Museum

London SE1 website team

The Imperial War Museum says that a lack of understanding on the part of the Government has hampered its ability to obtain emergency financial support during the COVID-19 crisis.

Government doesn’t understand us, says Imperial War Museum

The IWM is the latest institution to submit written evidence to the House of Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee which is investigating the impact of COVID-19 on the sectors within its remit.

"The only way to gain any financial support as an Arm's Length Body (ALB) was the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and lack of understanding of our business model in the Treasury created constant delays to our being able to apply for and action the savings, meaning that we can only claim back a small proportion of the losses expected from closure," said IWM's management its its written submission to the Commons committee.

It added: "The support and provision in response to COVID-19 has highlighted the lack of Government understanding of the complexity of IWM's business model.

"Over the last ten years our public funding has been reduced and IWM is now under 40 per cent publicly funded.

"This meant that when COVID-19 hit we lost 60 per cent of our income overnight.

"The way we are accounted for within Government assumes that all our money is Government money and this led to the issues over the CJRS."

IWM also warned that "...the support and provision in response to COVID-19 has highlighted the lack of Government understanding in the complexity of our business model as we fall in-between the camps of public sector and private business.

"The fact that we have successfully become more commercial has been the very reason we are in difficulty now.

"We have concentrated on mass participation based on visitor numbers, a model which has proved unsustainable in this outbreak."

The submission continues: "In the short term IWM will also need to restructure our business to support a viable future for the museum.

"In the next 18 months we will need to curtail massive amounts of work across the board to stay solvent.

"We will need cash flow to do this, but it is also important to recognise that this will increase the risk to the national collections with reduced staff and maintenance to care for them."

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