Supporting the Heritage Sector to Manage the Impact of Coronavirus

In such challenging and uncertain times for everyone, we are working hard to protect and champion heritage which is a source of well-being and collective identity. We are collaborating with a number of heritage organisations to:

  • share information and expertise
  • provide support and guidance
  • understand the impact of the current situation on the heritage sector.

Work is currently focused across five key areas:

Covid-19 Emergency Response Funding

Historic England has launched two funds in response to the Covid-19 pandemic:

  • Historic England's COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund extends a safety net to small heritage organisations at this challenging time. The deadline for applications has now passed.
  • The Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund will award grants to help fund urgent maintenance, repairs and surveys at some of England’s locally-cherished historic buildings and sites. The work generated will help heritage specialists, whose businesses have been severely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. The deadline for expressions of interest has now passed. More about the application process.

The two funds run alongside new funding announced by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as well as other measures introduced by the Government and heritage and cultural sector partners.

If you are one of our existing grant recipients, please read our updated guidance.

Heritage Sector Response Group

This group of national heritage organisations has come together to assess the impact on heritage, to share information and to co-ordinate support and action.

The attendees are drawn from across the national Historic Environment Forum and include, amongst others:

  • Historic England
  • Historic Houses
  • National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • National Trust
  • The Heritage Alliance

The group is at present focussing on immediate responses but will refocus on longer term considerations as soon as possible.

Working with the Government

We are in daily contact with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and have regular contact with the Heritage Minister to discuss heritage issues, including initial responses and for longer-term planning.

The Heritage Alliance is also gathering concerns and questions from its members and sharing these with both Historic England and the DCMS so that the immediate challenges to the independent heritage sector can be understood.

Please feed immediate questions and concerns to The Heritage Alliance on [email protected]

Assessing the impact on heritage

We are working closely with the heritage sector to collate comprehensive and consistent information on the impact of Coronavirus. We need to make sure that we have reliable data and evidence on how all parts of the sector have been affected, so that we can respond quickly and effectively.

As well as the considerable impact on tourist sites, we will collect data on the impact on small businesses, craft skills specialists and heritage crime so that we can best plan for the recovery phase.

If you would like to contribute ideas on the data that should be collected or send us evidence of how you have been impacted, please email [email protected]

Other support

The Government has produced guidance aimed to help charities to continue to run during the coronavirus outbreak. Charities are able to retain Gift Aid on some payments that have been received for cancelled events.

The Social Investment Business announced a £25m Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund to help social enterprises and charities.

The Heritage Alliance is providing up-to-the-minute advice and information for its members and all those heritage organisations affected by the virus. The Heritage Alliance is the umbrella body that unites over 130 independent heritage organisations in England. Their information is regularly updated so do keep an eye on it.

The Charity Commission and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations have both issued guidance for all charities to help them decide what steps to take.

Our advice on reopening heritage locations will help you find guidance and think through considerations for reopening or returning to work at historic sites, including retail and visitor attractions.

Support for organisations active in the heritage sector

If you run a business based in or on a historic building we have specific advice on how to look after and make changes to it.

Our grant assistance to owners of historic commercial buildings is focused through our Heritage Action Zone programme. Unfortunately we cannot offer grants to support local businesses outside that scheme but there are a number of other external sources that may be able to help.

Our summary of Government support for businesses

Power to Change has announced an emergency support fund to provide both immediate and medium term support for community businesses across England.

The government has published advice on how to keep the public safe in green spaces and urban centres. It has also published advice on accessing green spaces safely.

The British Association of Landscape Industries provides on operating procedures to keep workforces safe and there is other advice available on their web site. The sector magazine, Horticulture Week, published guidance on control measures (7 April 2020).

Advice on managing public access to parks and social-distancing is offered by various local authorities such as the Greater London Authority. The Royal Parks has shared its ‘Keep Your Parks Open' campaign materials online.

New guidance has been published and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Local Government Association. It aims to help those managing public parks to understand published government guidance and bring together good practice to help re-open public parks and urban green spaces.

The Ordnance Survey, along with many other organisations in the outdoor recreation sector, has published the Get Outside hub. This provides information on the government guidance as well as activities to get people safely out into natural environments.

Several organisations have produced advice, particularly on risk assessments and staying safe on site, including:

The government has released guidance for working safely in construction and other outdoor work. The government has published guidance for members of the public (including metal-detectorists) searching for archaeological finds. It includes advice on searching safely, protecting archaeology and reporting finds.

CIfA and ALGAO have released a joint statement on archaeology and Covid-19

We outline updates to the planning response to the pandemic in our monthly Planning Bulletin. However, given the fast-moving nature of responses to the pandemic we would recommend checking websites including, the Local Government Association and the Planning Advisory Service.

Latest coronavirus related planning developments and announcements include:

  • Local authorities and certain health service bodies have the power (from 9 April to 31 December 2020) to carry out certain emergency developments. This allows temporary development for the purposes of preventing or controlling an emergency. Development is not permitted on land containing a scheduled monument.

Historic England produces a very wide range of guidance and training. If you’re taking some time to catch up on your professional development, you could:

There are many other heritage organisations that are providing support in a number of ways:

  • Historic Houses - Historic Houses is currently surveying its 1,500 members on the financial impacts of the current crisis. A daily email update is also being sent to keep members updated on the latest Government advice on the type of business support available, such as grants, loans and tax deferrals. Information is available on the Historic Houses website.
  • The Heritage Alliance - The Heritage Alliance is hosting a COVID 19 information hub, which contains advice, announcements and useful links.
  • National Lottery Heritage Fund – support and advice for grant holders and the wider sector is on their website and blog.
  • Architectural Heritage Fund - The AHF has committed to supporting their loan clients, grant holders and applicants at this challenging time.
  • Industrial Heritage Networks: The website is regularly updated with advice and information for industrial heritage organisations.
  • The Collections Trust and the Institute of Conservation have developed resources for those managing collections in lockdown
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects is collating information for architects and practices.

Other grants and funding

Many other organisations in the sector provide targeted grants and support for particular types of heritage or organisation. Some of these are new schemes to provide support during Covid-19, while others are part of a continuing programme of grants.

This page provides links to some of the schemes available nationally, but it may not be comprehensive. Other, regional, schemes may also be available, for example through your local Community Foundation.

The Heritage Alliance Funding Hub may also be a useful source of information.

Our other advice pages cover:

This page will be updated regularly and is correct at the time of publication.

Grants for buildings, monuments or collections

  • Pilgrim Trust: continues its grant programme for conservation projects for buildings, monuments and collections.

Historic Places of Worship

  • Allchurches Trust: Current grant schemes open, with an additional Covid-19 related scheme expected later in the year.
  • ChurchCare grants: ChurchCare is the Church of England’s national resource to support its parishes, dioceses and cathedrals.
  • National Churches Trust: The Trust continues to operate its grant schemes for repair and maintenance.

Maritime heritage


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