HMD grants escape coalition cuts

Two grants made by the previous Labour government to mark Holocaust Memorial Day will escape a review of Whitehall spending ordered by the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

In January, allocations of £100,000 each to the Wiener Library and the Jewish Museum in London were announced by the then Culture Minister, Margaret Hodge.

But the new Chancellor, George Osborne, said last week that all spending decisions taken by government departments since the beginning of the year would be reassessed, after having accused Labour of a "reckless and irresponsible spending spree in the run-up to the election".

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, however, said this week that the grants to the two institutions would remain unaffected.

This was because the money had come from "an underspend from a budget from the previous year", she said, "so there is no question of getting that money back".

The two institutions were mentioned in a newspaper report last week which speculated on possible targets of the spending review.

But even if the grants had come under question, the government might have had trouble recalling them.

"We received the money and spent it," said Rickie Burman, director of the Jewish Museum, which reopened in its expanded Camden premises in March.

The grant to the Wiener Library, which houses one of the world's leading archives on the Nazis, related to its planned relocation next year to Russell Square, in central London. It has so far raised around £2 million towards the estimated £5 million move.

Ben Barkow, the library's director, said that any idea that the grant was part of a spree would have been "absurd".

    Last updated: 3:25pm, May 27 2010