IHBC’s COVID-19 signpost 4: Advise and updates collated from the heritage sector, including data and policy to care and cleaning

Some organisations with conservation links have been collating resources on COVID-19 impacts, some of which inevitably will be time sensitive, including Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS), Historic Environment Forum, The Heritage Alliance (THA), and Historic England, on cleaning surfaces.

BEFS writes:

BEFS has compiled an overview of advice sites regarding the Coronavirus from across the cultural heritage funding landscape, heritage and built environment organisations and stakeholders. As the situation changes and develops, the information will likely change. However, this overview of guidance and announcements should provide an indication of where to find support for you and your organisation at this challenging time… If there is relevant information we have not included, do please get in contact (with us).

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From HEF, via Ben Cowell, Interim HEF Chair, writes:

These are challenging times for all of us involved in looking after the historic environment we love and value, whether this is fixed or moveable, and whether it is in public, charitable or private ownership. We might be employees or employers, trustees, volunteers, or self-employed freelancers. All of us face an unprecedented set of challenges, and a situation that is likely to get worse before it gets any better.

Given the fast-moving nature of the current situation, it is imperative that everyone keeps an eye on government advice as it is published. We want to share here what different parts of the sector are doing to provide additional support. We will continue to update the following information as things evolve.

Heritage Sector Response Group:

A Heritage Sector Response Group has been established, based on the Heritage 2020 ‘Helping Things To Happen’ subgroup. The group will share information, assess ongoing impacts, and co-ordinate support and action. Attendees are drawn from across the national Historic Environment Forum and include Historic England, the Heritage Alliance, National Trust, Architectural Heritage Fund, National Lottery Heritage Fund, Architectural Heritage Fund, Historic Royal Palaces, Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, Oxford University, Historic Houses, English Heritage and ICON.

Working with the Government:

The Heritage Sector Response Group is in frequent contact with the DCMS.  The Heritage Council will hold regular teleconferences to ensure that the Heritage Minister hears and can respond to current issues, from initial challenges to longer-term planning for a return to more normal circumstances.


Various initiatives are underway to assess the impact that the crisis is having. You may wish to be aware of these, so that you can respond as appropriate:

  1. Historic England

Historic England will collate comprehensive and consistent information on the impact of the COVID19 pandemic. In addition to the already significant impacts on tourist sites, Historic England will consider the impact on small businesses, specialist practitioners, and heritage crime.

Historic England will also look ahead so the sector is in the best position possible when we move to the recovery phase.

If you would like to contribute ideas on what data might be collected, please email Heritage-Counts@HistoricEngland.org.uk

  1. National Lottery Heritage Fund survey of heritage organisations

The National Lottery Heritage Fund is reviewing its funding approach and will shortly make an announcement about the immediate help it can provide.

The Fund has a survey to help gauge the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the people and heritage organisations it works with. The survey is open until Friday 27 March and we encourage heritage organisations to take part. For more information on taking part in the survey see:  https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/news/survey-tell-us-how-coronavirus-covid-19-affecting-you

  1. Heritage Alliance Surveying Members

The Heritage Alliance is gathering concerns and questions from its members and feeding these into Government so that the immediate challenges to the independent heritage sector are understood. Please feed immediate questions and concerns to The Heritage Alliance on policy@theheritagealliance.org.uk

  1. Historic Houses

Historic Houses is currently surveying its 1,500 members on the financial impacts of the current crisis.


No-one in the sector should feel unsupported or alone at the present time. Help is available, even though the situation looks stark and gloomy as things stand. Here are some links to places where relevant advice might be found:

  1. The Heritage Alliance

The Heritage Alliance is hosting a COVID 19 information hub, which contains collated advice, summaries of announcements and useful links for those working in heritage.

  1. National Lottery Heritage Fund

Alongside the survey from the NLHF, there is information on their website relating to support and advice for grant holders and the wider sector.

  1. Historic England

Historic England has advice for the historic environment and the heritage sector on their website.

  1. Architectural Heritage Fund

The AHF has committed to supporting their loan clients, grant holders and applicants at this challenging time.

  1. Historic Houses

A daily email update is keeping Historic Houses properties up to date on the latest Government advice in relation to the various forms of business support on offer (such as grants, loans, the job retention scheme, tax deferrals). Historic Houses have also secured clarification from HMRC on the impact of the crisis where houses or collections are covered by conditional exemption. Information is available on the Historic Houses website, while the members’ pages highlight advice for owners

Collaboration has never been so important. We need to work together to communicate the value of our crucial and life-affirming sector, to support each other and to continue to connect with and engage the public.


…We keep adding material to (the THA advice hub) on a rolling basis. We are very grateful for the questions and immediate evidence you are feeding through to us. Please keep doing so. We are collating this and feeding it through to DCMS daily. We know there is significant concern about cash flow/liquidity, the fact that grants/tax reliefs not loans are needed for swathes of the sector, that sector freelancers need support alongside staff, and the need for urgent clarification around the job retention scheme/furloughed staff/openings and essential work.

See the THA advice hub

Historic England

HE has recently posted some advice on our website compiled by one of our Senior Building Conservation Advisors, Clara Willett, in consultation with English Heritage, National Trust and Historic Royal Palaces, and based on advice produced by Public Health England, about how to safely clean important historic surfaces such as stair handrails and door handles etc in historic buildings.

With so many people self-isolating at home, everyone is very concerned about limiting the spread of the virus and this advice will help them do so without harming their building interiors, fixtures and fittings… the information will be of use to anyone who advises owners of historic buildings as well as of direct use to building owners and managers

Read more….

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