The government has pledged to hand over £7 million to English Heritage (EH) over the next three years – the first investment boost for the watchdog in a decade.
Culture Secretary James Purnell (pictured) announced yesterday that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will increase the grant to EH from £123.7 million to £130.7 million.
Purnell said: ‘Maintaining our historic built environment for future generations is incredibly important, and I am grateful for the great work that English Heritage have done over the last few years.
‘In a very tight spending round, our overall funding settlement for the DCMS was far better than many had expected… The allocation to English Heritage means that they will be able to continue their grants programme at present levels and press on with the Heritage Protection Review.
The decision has been grudgingly welcomed by EH, which says the investment is still below inflation. Earlier this year the quango was forced to team up with charity The Wolfson Foundation to help repair England’s crumbling cathedrals.
EH chairman Sandy Bruce Lockhart said: ‘This increase in resources, combined with our commitment to make further savings, will allow us to move forward on a number of key heritage initiatives.
‘With forthcoming Heritage Protection Legislation, the system for managing England’s heritage is about to be transformed. It is vital that these changes are properly resourced.
‘The Secretary of State’s announcement will present considerable financial challenges but because we strongly believe these legislative changes will bring huge benefits, we will make implementation our priority.’