Letters and Beatles lyrics handwritten by John Lennon have become the first works of art to be donated to the nation under the Cultural Gifts Scheme, Maria Miller, the Secretary of State for Culture, has said.
Speaking at an event at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth on Friday, Miller said the journalist and author Hunter Davies, who wrote a biography of the Beatles in 1968, was the first person to donate through the scheme. He gave the items to the British Library.
The scheme, announced by the government in its 2011 autumn statement, allows the giving of pre-eminent objects, or items associated with a historic building, in return for a tax relief. The donor benefits from a reduction in income tax or capital gains liability of 30 per cent of the donated object’s value.
The British Library said that donating the items would reduce Davies’s tax bill by £319,500.
Opened earlier this year, the scheme shares an annual budget of £30m with the Acceptance in Lieu Scheme, which allows people to offer items of cultural and historic importance in full or part payment of their inheritance tax.
Miller said she was grateful to Davies "for showing the way".
She also confirmed that funding for museums and the arts would be cut by 5 per cent in next week’s comprehensive spending review, which she said was a "significantly better outcome" than many expected.
"My message to the cultural sector is that I will continue to make the case for public investment in culture, but it would be prudent to continue to strengthen your financial resilience by diversifying your income streams as far as possible," she said.