Historic England announces COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Fund

Tilbury Fort

HISTORIC England has launched a second emergency fund to support the heritage sector recovery from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The fund, which will be up to £3 million, will award grants to those who care for some of England’s most significant historic sites in the East of England to help fund urgent maintenance, repairs and investigations where our support is most needed. The business generated will help heritage specialists, whose livelihoods have been severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Grants of up to £25,000 will be offered to fix urgent problems at locally-cherished historic buildings and sites which are normally visited by the public, so that they can re-open as quickly as possible, subject to COVID-19 restrictions, and thrive once again. The funding can be used to address problems such as damaged roofs, masonry and windows, to hire scaffolding to prevent structural collapse, or commission surveys necessary to inform urgent repairs.

Historic England, which is responsible for protecting and championing the nation’s historic environment, has developed the COVID-19 Heritage at Risk Response Fund following its own comprehensive survey of heritage organisations. The findings revealed the serious impact of Coronavirus on the sector, and loss or postponement of work was the most common reported effect of the outbreak. 75.9% of respondents in the East of England said they had lost business or work had been postponed.

Those hardest hit were craft workers, like stonemasons and glaziers, and professionals such as architects and surveyors. In the East of England 43% of craftspeople and 42% of professionals predicted that their businesses will fail within three months without any additional support. The fund will generate work for these professionals from early autumn and develop a pipeline of projects.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive, said: “Informed by the findings of our survey, this emergency fund aims to generate new work for those professionals and small businesses most vulnerable within the heritage sector as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, at the same time protecting significant historic sites where our support is most needed. It is vital that we keep the wheels of the sector turning in order to protect livelihoods and save our heritage, which enriches people’s lives and is a source of national and local pride.”

Heritage Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Our heritage is of huge national importance and we are absolutely committed to helping support our historic buildings, monuments and landscapes. This new fund, on top of unprecedented government financial support, will help to protect and preserve our heritage during this challenging time.”

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