CABE casualty of coalition cuts as DCLG joins DCMS in withdrawing funding

CABE has become a high-profile fatality of the spending review after two government departments sealed its doom by refusing any more funds.

First the DCMS said it would not pay its share, around £4.5m, on the day of the comprehensive spending review.

This was followed by DCLG saying it to would no longer fund the design watchdog, to around £6.7m a year.

CABE denied it had been abolished and said "it remains the government's statutory advisor on architecture, urban design and public space for the immediate future".

But a source told Horticulture Week: "DCMS has withdrawn its funding for the next year. They have allowed a little bit of money for winding up.

"The DCLG said they could not continue to fund us if DCMS didn’t, which means we can’t carry on. We are looking at what happens next."

CABE wanted to see if any of its highly-regarded initiatives, such as Building for Life, design reviews and enabling, could run as stand-alone set ups.

"Green space will lose out because nobody else does this kind of thing." DCLG did not comment.

CABE chair Paul Finch said: "There are thousands of new buildings, parks and streets that are better because of our support. I believe the reasons for that work remain and will become ever more relevant to the future of this country."

Earlier this year (HW 30 July) he told the Landscape Institute: "As we see inevitable cutbacks in public funding, it’s good to remember the significance of public bodies and independent professional institutes. You don't miss them until they’re no longer there. We have to take these cuts with all the stoicism we can muster."

At the same time, parks consultant Sid Sullivan said: "I would be horrified if CABE disappeared. Its good work will not be sustained and we will go back to the compulsory competitive tendering era where price is everything.

"Only a philistine would do that. Big Society is meant to be about listening to people and the Government said anything that made a difference would be left alone."

CABE said it would "take stock of the decision" and look at options to create new ways to support and champion good design.

Support messages on CABE’s website included one from Craig Broadwith, a local authority conservation and design officer, who called the funding decision "ill-advised, ill-informed and reactionary". Rob Thompson wrote "the impact of this decision will be visible throughout the country for years to come".

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