Heritage At Risk 2019. St Peter's Church, Castle Park, Bristol. Somerset. Portrait of Alison Hobbs, building conservator, repointing to east end.

Historic England has launched an emergency fund to help tackle the impact of Coronavirus on the heritage sector.

The aim of the fund, which will be up to £2 million, is to extend the safety net as far as possible for the sector by helping small heritage organisations both to survive the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, and to prepare for recovery.

Historic England, which is responsible for protecting and championing the nation’s historic environment, has developed the Covid-19 emergency fund in response to its own comprehensive survey of heritage organisations. This survey revealed the serious impact of Coronavirus on the sector, particularly on small organisations .

Eight out of ten respondents to the survey reported they had lost business in the short term, while six out of ten  had been forced to postpone or cancel income-generating events.

Whilst the impact of Coronavirus has been serious, Government support schemes are providing assistance and 90% of businesses felt able to keep going in the short term. Craft workers and professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors appear to be most vulnerable with more than four out of ten concerned for their businesses and in need of additional support.

These small businesses are crucial to the operation of England’s heritage construction sector, which generates an estimated £7.1 billion in GVA to the economy. The sector employs 100,000 construction workers (including specialised craftspeople), 6,000 archaeologists and 24,000 architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. They are vital for the maintenance and continued enjoyment of England’s heritage.

Historic England is inviting applications from heritage organisations, self-employed contractors, third-sector organisations and voluntary groups that have been severely affected by the impact of Coronavirus and which need additional short-term emergency financial support to ensure their survival.

The organisation will also consider supporting projects and activities that respond to the current crisis and contribute to recovery in the heritage sector.

“We know that Coronavirus has hit everyone hard, including the heritage sector, and that there are many individuals and organisations that are really struggling for survival at the moment. The safeguarding of their livelihoods will also determine the survival of our most precious heritage. Many of the skills that are needed to protect our heritage are already in desperately short supply and if these skilled specialists go out of business during this difficult time, the hard truth is that some of our heritage will be lost forever.” said Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive

Applicants are invited to apply for grants of up to £25,000 to address financial difficulties arising from Coronavirus. Grants of £50,000 are also available for projects and activities that reduce risks to heritage by providing information, resources and skills.


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