Historic England’s new Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Targets Small Heritage Organisations

Historic England’s much-anticipated Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund launched today (17 April). The intention is to extend a safety net to SMALL heritage organisations and has been set up in response to a recent survey by Historic England.

The Grant Fund

The grants available will help organisations, voluntary groups, and self-employed contractors to survive the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, and crucially to prepare for recovery. Applicants are invited to apply for grants of up to £25,000 to address financial difficulties arising from Coronavirus. Grants of up to £50,000 are also available for projects and activities that reduce risks to heritage by providing information, resources and skills. The deadline for applications is midnight on Sunday 3 May 2020 and the funding for successful applications will be awarded from mid-May.

The fund will be used to support third-sector organisations and voluntary groups managing heritage projects, as well as heritage organisations and self-employed contractors who are severely affected by the impact of Coronavirus and who need additional emergency financial support beyond the Government’s measures. Follow this link for the ‘calls for proposals’ document and details of the full eligibility criteria: https://historicengland.org.uk/coronavirus/fund/

COVID-19 Impact Survey

Historic England’s survey of the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the heritage sector, received 557 responses from microbusinesses (those with fewer than 10 staff), 79 responses from larger businesses (those with 100 or more employees), and 97 responses from entirely voluntary-run organisations. This contributors operate in a wide range of heritage fields such as archaeology, gardens and landscapes, and historic buildings. However, maritime/transport heritage was least well represented amongst respondents at just 4%. There was a good geographical spread of respondents across England with no one region dominating the data set.

According to Historic England the impact of Coronavirus on respondents is widespread and severe. Nearly four out of five (76%) of respondents report lost business in the short term, and three out of five (58%) had postponed or cancelled income-generating events. At the time of the survey (early April 2020), 39% had decided to furlough staff, but only 5% of respondents had decided to terminate employment contracts, suggesting that furloughing is helping to buffer the impacts. The survey indicated that smaller charities and faith-based organisations have been badly affected by the unavailability of volunteers. One business in four (25%) have experienced delays in being paid for goods and services, while one in three (31%) have incurred additional costs to the business to cope with social distancing measures. The survey indicates that the most vulnerable of the respondents are either:

  • craftspeople / smaller crafts-based businesses
  • ‘professional services’: architects / surveyors / engineers

Over 40% of these businesses forecast their businesses failing within 3 months even if the current Government support scheme delivers.

Follow this link for the survey details: https://historicengland.org.uk/coronavirus/heritage-sector/survey/

The Call for Proposals sits alongside Historic England’s continuing Heritage Protection Commissions Open Proposals Programme. HE say that they are assessing the need and the risks for the projects and organisations they already fund to see what is vulnerable and where their help will make the most difference. The aim is to extend the safety net as far as they can and so help heritage organisations both to survive the immediate challenges and to prepare for the recovery.

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