£3m fund for urgent work to historic sites to help support recovery

A new fund has been announced to pay for urgent works on heritage buildings Credit: Historic England/PA

Grants will be awarded for urgent repairs and work on historic sites under a new emergency fund to help the heritage sector recover from the pandemic.

Government heritage agency Historic England has launched a second emergency fund for the sector, following a £1.8 million fund supporting 70 organisations to weather the crisis and help with the recovery.

The new fund, of up to £3 million, will award grants of up to £25,000 each to those who care for some of England’s most significant historic sites, to help pay for urgent maintenance, repairs and investigations.

It is hoped the business generated by the funding will help heritage specialists, such as craft workers, including stone masons and glaziers, and professionals including architects and surveyors.

These specialists have been severely affected by Covid-19, a survey by Historic England found, with work commonly being lost or postponed due to the pandemic and more than three-quarters (78%) set to go out of business by October without help.

The grants will go to fix urgent problems at historic buildings and sites that are normally open to the public so they can re-open as quickly as possible in line with restrictions.

Funding will be available to mend damaged roofs, masonry and windows, to hire scaffolding to prevent structural collapse, or commission surveys necessary to inform urgent repairs.

It is hoped the fund will generate work for heritage professionals from early autumn and develop a pipeline of projects.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England 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.”