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Taxpayers stump up £18,000 for slavery audit

3 March 2021

5:10 AM

3 March 2021

5:10 AM

It seems it’s a costly business putting together a historical report. In fact, it took two researchers and a grand total of £18,481 to compile Historic England’s slavery audit. The document — which lists any English pub, church or village hall that might have some connection to the transatlantic slave trade — reportedly caused much frustration among ministers for focusing on the ‘divisive parts of Britain’s history rather than celebrating our shared heritage’.

Historic England spent the eye-watering sum paying a pair of academics to put together a list of existing research — that’s right, it’s a £18,481 catalogue of work that was already out there, in the public domain for all to find. Some research by the public body is paid for through other, non-taxpayer funded sources. But not this document — according to a Freedom of Information request by Mr S, the research was paid for by the body’s grant-in-aid funding from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. In other words, by you and me.


Mr S obviously isn’t against research into Britain’s past. But is it really for Historic England to put together this divisive document at a time when protesters are defacing historic monuments for their links to sins of the past? Does such a document really encourage ‘diverse audiences’, the report’s intended readers, to take joy in our history and spark a desire to protect England’s heritage (which is, after all, Historic England’s job)? Or will the report instead foster a sense of alienation and scorn where previously there was none? And is it right for a publically-funded body to be spending £18,481 on a glorified list of other people’s research?

Perhaps the taxpayer could fork out a couple of grand to pay yours truly to answer these blindingly obvious questions…

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