The National Lottery Heritage Fund announces new emergency fund, to support Welsh heritage in crisis


The National Lottery Heritage Fund is making £50m available in response to the significant impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on the UK’s heritage.

The new Heritage Emergency Fund will address immediate pressures over the next 3-6 months for those most in need alongside increased investment in essential digital skills across the sector, providing expertise in critical areas such as digital fundraising, use of social media and communications, running online events and activities.

In addition, the National Lottery Heritage Fund is continuing to support 2,500 projects already in delivery across the UK, an overall commitment of £1.1bn. This funding has been made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.

Funding through the Emergency Fund for grants of between £3,000-50,000 will be available to organisations that have received funding in the past and are either a current grantee, or still under contract following a previous grant. Applications will be open to the full breadth of heritage, from historic sites, industrial and maritime heritage, museums, libraries and archives to parks and gardens and landscapes and nature. Priority will be given where there is limited or no access to other sources of support, or where heritage is most at risk.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has surveyed more than 1250 heritage organisations on the effect of the Covid-19 crisis. The results show that 82% of respondents reported a high or moderate risk to their organisation’s long-term viability. 35% stated their financial reserves will be depleted within four months, and 46% of organisations can survive for no more than six months. *

Eilish McGuinness, Executive Director, Business Delivery, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “We know that circumstances are incredibly challenging for our heritage community right now and we want to do everything we can to support them. We hope this new Emergency Fund and our investment in digital capability will be a lifeline for organisations affected.

“Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, creating economic prosperity and supporting health and wellbeing.  All of these are going to be vitally important as we emerge from this current crisis.”

The emergency funding will be diverted from planned new grants, with all new grant applications halted with immediate effect. Delivery awards for projects that have already received development funding will continue to be made throughout the crisis, on the existing competitive basis.

The Emergency Fund is part of a wider raft of support available from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, for heritage organisations affected by the crisis, which includes:

  • Continuing to support those 2,500 organisations where funding of £1.1bn is already committed, by being as flexible as possible, allowing for delays or changes in the way projects are delivered, relaxing normal grant conditions and bringing forward payments if necessary.
  • Additional £1.2m investment in our Digital Skills for Heritage initiative to help the sector through the crisis and beyond.
  • A further £2m for ROSS consultants – the experts who support projects, help run delivery, mentor, monitor and help with business plans etc. We will be directing that support to organisations in need as a result of the crisis and in doing so supporting several hundred freelancers and self-employed.
  • Continuing to make round two delivery awards throughout the crisis on a competitive basis as usual.
  • Working closely with the Government, other funders and heritage organisations to align help and support and ensure the best possible outcome for heritage.
  • Providing bespoke advice and support via our local teams, and in some cases, specialist mentor support.

Grants from the new Emergency Fund will be open for applications and further details provided on the selection criteria and how to apply in the next few days. Decisions will be made as quickly as possible to support the sector.  Closes 30th June 2020.


Image Credit: E L Cooke