Last week the future of the National Heritage Collection was secured following the announcement of a one-off Government lump sum of £80 million. The money will fund investment in urgent repairs and enhancements and support English Heritage's plan to form a charity to manage the Collection. A Charity will have more freedom to generate commercial and philanthropic income and eventually become self-financing. The National Heritage Collection of 420 historic sites and monuments includes Stonehenge, Kenwood, Dover Castle and Charles Darwin's Home, Down House, in Kent. It is one of England's most important collections of cultural treasures and the £80 million secures its future for the nation.
English Heritage's responsibility for planning and heritage protection will remain the same. The cut of 10% in our revenue funding for the year 2015/16 announced today (Wednesday 3 July, 2013) by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, is very disappointing. However, this cut will not be effective for two years so we have time to prepare for it. Thanks to the £80 million, and the greater freedom from state control and improved ability to fundraise that comes with Charitable status, the National Heritage Collection will need less revenue funding as it works towards becoming self-financing. We shall use the savings in this area to minimise the effect of the cut on the statutory side of our work. Importantly, our commitment to the National Heritage Protection Plan remains resolute. This is the work we do to identify those parts of the nation's heritage that matter most to people and are at greatest risk - our advice, research and awareness-raising work.
Over the coming months we want to hear from all those who use our services about how we can take advantage of the opportunity of having a new organisation with a clear, dedicated purpose, to strengthen our expert advice and provide an even better service. In due course, the heritage protection service will be re-launched with a new name and a new identity.
Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: "We have re-organised after the cuts of 2010 and our planning and heritage protection services are in good shape. Despite today's news, it is our intention to enhance the service we provide to owners, developers and the public, ensuring that England's heritage across the country is understood, valued, cared for and enjoyed.
"I am grateful to the Secretary of State for fighting so valiantly to secure our extra capital funding and I look forward to working with her to ensure the charity is set up on a sound financial footing. Without the £80 million one-off award, we would have been faced with significant cuts and no prospect of tackling the backlog of urgent repairs to the National Heritage Collection that has accumulated over several decades of below-inflation Government funding for English Heritage."
The new protection body will speed up research and listing of areas of heritage which are not currently properly protected such as buildings and structures connected to the First World War, pre-1840 shipwrecks, public libraries and post-war schools. It will improve the efficiency of its advisory service to owners and developers who want to know what they can and cannot do with listed buildings or in sensitive historic settings. It will continue to offer grants, run the Heritage at Risk Register, the English Heritage Angel Awards and to fund Heritage Open Days, and it will enhance public access to all kinds of heritage data, including the nation's archive of 10 million photographs of historic buildings and places.