English Heritage charity licence could be tendered externally after eight years

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport says that in 2019 it will review arrangements for the licence to manage the National Heritage Collection

English Heritage
English Heritage

The new charity that will be spun out of English Heritage will have its licence to manage the 400-site National Heritage Collection guaranteed for only eight years, after which period the management contract could be tendered externally. 

A Department for Culture, Media & Sport consultation document on the plans for EH says that in 2019, halfway into the eight-year programme to create a financially self-supporting charity, a review of "future contractual arrangements" will begin.

A DCMS spokeswoman confirmed that the review "will consider all options, including that the management of the collection should be tendered to other organisations".

A spokeswoman for EH said it did not anticipate losing the licence. "We have no reason to anticipate that the charity won't be successful," she said.

Because the licence is not granted under legislation, it "has to be subject to being reviewed and tendered under EU law like other contracts", the EH spokeswoman said.

She also said that Historic Royal Palaces, which manages five London properties including the Tower of London, operates with similar 10-year contract arrangements. HRP, originally founded in 1989, was made a charity in 1998 by the Department of National Heritage, a predecessor of DCMS.

A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services Union, which has members both in the head office and at EH sites, said: "Private firms have proved time and time again they are incapable of maintaining the level of quality and reliability of service that exists in the public sector because of the need to cut costs to maximise profit.

"It would be catastrophic for our much-loved heritage attractions if they were handed to the likes of G4S, Serco or Capita to be run on these lines."

Paul Pugh, head of third sector services at the law firm Eversheds, said: "When considering national treasures, the key consideration is ensuring appropriate stewardship of the assets and, in general terms, this can be built into the procurement process and legal structuring.

"The proposals being suggested reflect the direction of travel towards different models of public service delivery in the UK, which is leading to a blurring of public, private and third sector as we move towards small government."

- Read our analysis on English Heritage

- Read our interview with Sir Laurie Magnus

 


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