High street with people waiting at a bus stop

23-51 New Briggate, Leeds © Historic England DP233995
23-51 New Briggate, Leeds © Historic England DP233995

England’s Heritage Worth £31 Billion To Economy Reveals New Report

New research published today by Historic England on behalf of the Historic Environment Forum, shows the value of heritage to England’s economy. Heritage is an important sector which contributes to economic prosperity and growth through jobs in the heritage and construction sectors and from tourism. This new report has a focus on skills, examining the skills needs and gaps in the heritage sector.

The latest figures have been collected and analysed for Historic England by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) and are published in Heritage and the Economy 2019.

The data for England shows that:

  • Heritage provides a total GVA of £31 billion
  • Heritage provides over 464,000 jobs
  • For every directly-related job in the heritage sector, 1.34 jobs are supported through their activity
People sitting in the opening air under parasols at dusk
Madison Square, Liverpool. Research for Heritage Counts, 2018 examined the commercial use of heritage in towns and city centre locations. © Historic England DP055032

Economic value

The historic environment is intrinsically linked to economic activity with a large number of economic activities occurring within it, dependent on it or attracted to it. The heritage sector produces a total GVA of £31 billion in England.

For every £1 of GVA directly generated, an additional £1.21 of GVA is supported in the wider economy of England thanks to the supply chains of the heritage sector and due to the expenditure of their employees.

Construction and development

In 2018, heritage-related construction activities generated £7.1 billion in GVA in England employing over 100,000 people. The on-going need to repair, maintain and restore historic buildings creates strong dependencies between the heritage, construction and development sectors when specialist heritage skills and knowledge is needed.

Person walking passed brick building with semicircular windows
Trafford Council invested £1 million in the refurbishment of Altrincham’s Grade II-listed Market House and covered market and sought a private market operator to transform the Market House © Historic England DP233841 | See the list entry

Source of jobs

Heritage is an important employer in England. For every job directly related to heritage, such as conservation architect or archaeologist, 1.34 jobs are supported through their activity.

Tourism

As a tourism driver, heritage drives millions of inbound and national visits. In 2018, £17 billion was spent on heritage-related visits and trips in England by 218.4 million visitors. It is forecast that in 2019 inbound tourism to England will grow by 3% to 38.9 million and spending will boost by 7% to 24.5 billion. (VisitBritain 2019)

Family group standing outside Carisbrooke Castle with donkey and custodian
Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight. Six out of the top ten most visited paid attractions in England in 2018 were heritage attractions © Historic England M020474

Skills

Historic England commissioned the Centre for Economics and Business Research to examine the skills needs and skills gaps in the heritage sector in England.

It is estimated that:

  • 11% of firms in the heritage sector have a skills gap – when employees lack the skills, experience or qualifications to be fully proficient at their job.
  • 6% of firms operating within the heritage sector had at least one skills shortage vacancy – when they find it hard to get staff with the appropriate skills and experience to fill outstanding vacancies.

In comparison with other sectors, the heritage sector has a relatively high incidence of skills shortage vacancies. It is estimated that approximately £140 million worth of potential GVA was ‘lost’ in the heritage sector due to skills shortages in 2016. University College London research highlights that skills lacking are handling digital collections, artefact conservation, archaeological fieldwork and post-fieldwork analysis.

Man in hard hat and high viz jacket working on roof
Working on restoring the roof at Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings, Shropshire © Historic England DP218166

We are concerned about skills gaps and skills shortages in the heritage sector because they create a negative impact on wages, productivity and economic growth. The key way to address this is through in-work training and we are leading the sector on the development of early career support through apprenticeships. Six new apprenticeship standards have been developed covering entry level to postgraduate level, and in 2019 we launched a brand new programme providing 11 heritage apprenticeship opportunities in our own organisation. We also provide on-going career support through our continuing professional development training programmes.

Adala Leeson, Head of Socio-Economic Analysis and Evaluation at Historic England

Read the full report

Publication of Heritage and the Economy 2019 was postponed to January 2020 due to pre-election restrictions.

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