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Historic England announces £2m emergency fund for heritage specialists

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Architects working in England’s heritage sector can apply to a new £2 million Covid-19 emergency response fund for help safeguarding their business

Historic England has launched the new funding to help tackle the impact of coronavirus on heritage organisations. 

It comes after a survey of the sector by the governent’s heritage watchdog found that more than 40 per cent of craft workers and professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors predict their business will fail within three months, even if they get government support.

According to Historic England, 24,000 architects, engineers and quantity surveyors work in England’s heritage sector, which generates an estimated £7.1 billion in gross value added to the economy.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, told the AJ: ‘What we don’t want is to lose that skills base from our sector, particularly but not exclusively, conservation architects and people with expertise with working with heritage, and not to get it back.

Historic England’s survey of 799 heritage organisations found that nearly 80 per cent had lost business in the short term, while nearly 60 per cent had postponed or cancelled income-generating events. The research revealed that the impact of the pandemic is being particularly felt by organisations with 10 employees or fewer.

The new emergency fund is open to heritage organisations, self-employed contractors, third-sector organisations and voluntary groups in need of short-term financial support to ensure their survival, with grants of up to £25,000 available. Grants of £50,000 are available for projects and activities that reduce risks to heritage by providing information, resources and skills.

The support is designed to complement existing government measures such as the Job Retention Scheme and the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s £50 million emergency fund, announced earlier this month.

When people are allowed to go out again, they will want to visit heritage sites

Wilson said: ‘There is no denying [the current situation] is incredibly challenging in a way none of us have seen before. We do think heritage is really important to the recovery [from the pandemic] – partly economically, but also in terms of quality of life and all those things we were talking about that heritage could add.’ These include making a positive contribution to mental health.

Wilson added that when people are allowed to go out again, they will want to visit heritage sites, which ‘a lot of architects spend a lot of time trying to regenerate and conserve’.

The deadline for applications to the emergency fund is midnight on 3 May, with funding awarded to successful applicants from mid-May.

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