Join the Debate: What You Told Us
In our 'join the debate' survey we asked you to tell us: “What support would help the heritage sector survive and recover from the Covid-19 restrictions?” Thank you to all who answered. Below you can see all the responses we’ve received up until the modified date of this page.
Your comments and ideas will feed into the information we're gathering to inform decisions on what we can do to support the heritage sector.
Support for the sector
Extend furloughing for the heritage sector well beyond the current deadline and beyond that for the rest of the economy. The sector was hit first and hardest and will take a long time to recover, as some attractions will be unable to operate viably in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
Government must give ample notice to reopen attractions in order to conduct the necessary health, safety and risk assessments in order to open safely.
We will need sector-specific guidance from PHE on the use of PPE for staff and visitors, and clear attraction-specific guidance on social distancing measures.
Local authority-run attractions should be exempt from business rates this year, like the rest of the business sector.
Government should allow flexible and speedy permissions for attractions' restaurants and cafes to operate for takeaway business, without unnecessary and bureaucratic licensing procedures for change of use.
The heritage sector urgently needs a dedicated listed church repair grant scheme as it did before the lockdown.
Small grants to ensure small contractors have paid work, and the work benefits the general public and/or the heritage environment. from remote surveys to archives
Re-introduction of sideways loss relief and consideration to allow venues urgently to open for outdoor public access, weddings and small events and tours to at least get some cashflow into the system in the 2020 season. Then recognition of the huge implications that heritage will lose and making tax concessions for its future security.
Investment from central government for maintenance and further studies of the assets within this sector to cover buildings, landscapes.
Public money of course at first to keep from catastrophic break down, followed by an honest reappraisal of the importance of heritage and culture to the UK in both economic terms (jobs, revenue etc) and wellbeing.
Financial support for the sector, not only so they can survive another year but also so they can implement social distancing measures.
A funding programme to digitise more archives, so we can all access them from wherever we are. Free access to national and regional collections would enrich people's lives, by enabling them to engage more with heritage. Professionally, it would enable more knowledge and information to be shared about the history and significance of places, to inform better quality decisions about conservation.
More interactive websites like the Bristol 'Know Your Place' online mapping and archive project; this quality of access is absent in large areas of the North.
Zero rate VAT on historic building repairs.
Clear advice, sharing of good practice, avoidance of duplication of resources...perhaps County or Regional clusters of organisations...using CBA network? to help support one another as restrictions ease?
Remove VAT on works.
Focusing on community projects that engage people locally - especially following up the places that people have discovered for themselves while staying close to home - will build engagement and connections. Funding for those projects is part of it, but probably more valuable would be significant advocacy of the value of heritage and sense of place with organisations and charities with roots in disadvantaged communities.
Many heritage organisations do that on a local scale, but it needs to be understood at the head of organisations large and small, local and national, so it can filter down to the contacts on the ground. HE and other large heritage organisations could advocate, not so much for their own properties, but for a wider understanding of heritage in relevant major charities at a national level.
There needs to be specific and up-to-date guidance on exactly what is required to carry out archaeological activities reasonably safely. There is nothing on the internet, just loads of links to government advice, which is an abrogation of responsibility. Let's have specific recommendations, e.g. hand sanitiser, wipes, seating arrangements for lunch, etc.
Grants for bog standard planned and routine maintenance (not emergency work) to start swiftly to help the industry back to work and compensate for cancelled work for larger institutions such as the National Trust.
Relating the need for urgent repairs to Covid-19 as the current HE grant is ludicrous and tantamount to encouraging applicants to lie; historic buildings haven't caught Coronavirus, and they haven't deteriorated in condition because of it. It's the industry that needs help at the moment.
Work with local parish councils and county councils to bring pressure on government to zero rate building works, and seek local grants to help the reopening of houses to stimulate economic growth and employment. Increased public profile is essential as EVERYONE will be asking for support. The emphasis on profile should therefore focus on local economic value as well as leisure value.
Many organisations responsible for historic buildings including churches and private owners are desperate for funding for urgent repairs, but not eligible for the current funding schemes. New grant schemes are vital if our heritage is to be conserved.
Relax or preferably remove VAT on work to all Listed Buildings. Where money is raised by visits or donations, 20% is a major portion.
Example: new windows in a Charity owned Listed Building last year were paid for by private donations raised over a very long period of saving and penny pinching. A basic £15,000 cost went up to about £19,000 with VAT i.e 20% more VAT = 20% more visitors, goodwill and time. And none of that extra money goes to the building. It’s just a chore.
It must also be remembered that a large number of buildings, including those open to the public (some like ours for free as part of our Charitable remit) are run by groups who either don’t believe in gambling or have been regularly ignored by the Lottery Fund (which presumably pays VAT as part of its grants) and therefore, in the interests of the nation’s Heritage, are supporting it from their own voluntary time and money.
That 20% on top of this is a disgrace.
A joined up approach to supporting heritage and world heritage sites in this country, recognition of their importance by the government in terms of a collaborative strategy.
Sites are run on a shoe string, and with an army of volunteers who give their time for free. Heritage sites have a valuable story to tell in our human story on this earth and can offer a wide range of benefits to people.
A very large dollop of that rare commodity Common Sense by 'scientists', Government and church leaders!!
Support collaboration - support for virtual training events, for example tech training and small grants for tech resources, to enable people to access CPD and connect with people in similar fields. The IHBC virtual school is a good example which reached 300 people. More of this would be good to keep us in the loop, especially those WFH and sole practitioners.
Perhaps one way forward would be to encourage work and live schemes within historical landscapes so as to attract commercial investment to restoration projects involving older commercial properties.
Parks and gardens
If we spent less time responding to planning applications for inappropriate deveopment in, or adversely affecting historic parks and landscapes, we would have more time to devote to more positive activities to help the heritage sector. This would include getting more people involved in heritage conservation, restoration, and management as well as enjoying and appreciating the value of them.
Removing VAT on historic landscape and building restoration would also help.
Local, and green heritage is an essential service to local people!
Get local councillors engaged in forcing local authorities to take parks seriously. Friends groups are helpful but in the end have little financial authority ...or any other.
I ought to know as my husband and I are members of such an organization, and ultimately power is in the local authorities hands, full stop.
At least try to get the gardens of the homes open again, even if houses themselves cannot be re-opened. Pre-booking of garden visits may be to ensure numbers at any one time are not too great. Open gardens every day of week (not just once or twice a week as is sometimes the case).
It has to come from the population. There should be a joint publicity programme from the sector about the background and hard fought for public spaces.
Stop the commercialism.
Let people see the value of space and heritage.
Public spaces need more support than those run by charity.
Open the gardens now!
A nationwide appeal for donations - people love parks but are not aware of the financial burdens of their upkeep.
There is strong evidence that open green space is invaluable for the well being of people. Wherever possible open gardens.
A reduction in ticket prices may encourage visitors and the secondary/tertiary spend. The difference could potentially be made up of small loans/grants enough to support organisations through the crisis.
Lack of large scale expendable income will result in lower attendance and will extend the financial burden, diversification within the sector and at a local level, offering skills courses, lectures, catering will increase popularity and exposure. A more sustainable approach than big pay bail outs.
Relaxing planning rules for temporary structures/events/car parks etc that could assist with enabling recovery.
I think either an extension to membership or a percentage off the next renewals would benefit. If HH do not reimburse members in some way people will not be renewing next year which means HH will be worse off.
An example of a strong leader in the heritage sector as a model of best practice showing everyone else what a phased re-opening looks like.
Install Changing Places toilets for severely disabled people, that still don't have access to use toilets in Public or Royal Parks etc and heritage sites. They are the Public too and need to be considered and treated as such.
Might the Public also be educated on the risks of disposing their litter and human waste in parks and public places and issue a Public Health Alert, to avoid the spread of disease and Covid 19 etc.
Keep doing what you've always done but be vigilant with hand washing and try to observe respect recommended social distance common sense prevails.