Page updated: 8 October 2021
On 5 July 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced a £1.57 billion package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of COVID-19. To date, over £1.2b has been allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund, reaching over 5,000 individual organisations and sites.
At the 2021 Budget, the Chancellor announced an additional £300 million to support the Culture Recovery Fund in 2021/22, to continue to support key cultural organisations; bridge the sector as audiences begin to return; and continue to ensure a vibrant future for the culture sector as the nation recovers from the pandemic.
The Heritage Fund is distributing up to £40m of this third round of the Culture Recovery Fund (based on the level of demand), in partnership with Historic England, based on criteria set by DCMS. This round of funding has two strands:
- Strand One: Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage: Emergency Resource Support - for organisations that are in severe need and have not yet received support from the Culture Recovery Fund. Strand One is now closed to applications.
- Strand Two: Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage: Continuity Support - for organisations that have already received support from the Culture Recovery Fund and are still in need.
This guidance sets out the details of Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage: Continuity Support.
The aim of this strand is to continue supporting those culturally significant organisations that have had money invested in their organisation through the Culture Recovery Fund. Further funding will help them transition back into full operation as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.
In line with previous rounds of Culture Recovery funding, the central aims of this strand are to enable cultural organisations to:
- reopen/restart their operations, where appropriate
- operate on a sustainable, cost-efficient basis, in line with Government guidance.
Applicants can apply for grants of between £10,000 and £1million to cover core operating costs up to a point where they can demonstrate a return to financial viability. Funding cannot extend beyond 31 January 2022.
As previous recipients of a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, there is a limit to the total amount of funding you can receive:
- if you are a non-profit organisation, the maximum you can receive in total across all rounds is £4 million
- if you are a for-profit (commercial) organisation, the maximum you can receive in total across all rounds is £1.5 million – this includes companies limited by shares that have a not-for-profit or asset lock clause in their governing documents.
Whilst we do not anticipate that awards will be made above and beyond these limits, we will, by exception, consider applications from for-profit (commercial) organisations which exceed the cumulative limits where it can be strongly demonstrated that additional funding (up to a maximum cumulative limit of £2m) is essential for survival and all other funding sources have been exhausted.
The fund opened for applications on 16 August 2021 and you can apply any time from then until 12 noon on 29 October 2021.
Funding will be allocated on a rolling basis at our monthly decision meetings. The budget will be spread across each meeting in line with anticipated demand.
Government will keep the delivery of this funding under active review and consider how best to adapt it in line with the needs of the sector.
Who can apply?
We are only accepting applications from organisations and businesses that own, work with or manage heritage in England who have received funding through the previous two rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund.
If you are a previous recipient of Culture Recovery Fund funding, you should submit any new application to the same grant funder that processed and awarded the grant.
We will refer to these organisations and businesses as ‘heritage organisations’ throughout the rest of this guidance.
Following the previous two rounds we have further defined what we mean by a heritage organisation, before submitting an application please check your organisation is still eligible.
It isn’t possible to list every type of organisation that makes up our broad and varied heritage sector.
As a guide, your organisation could be:
- not-for-profit organisations that manage heritage sites, venues or attractions
- local authorities, universities and other public sector bodies that manage heritage sites, venues or attractions
- Private owners of nationally significant heritage sites, venues or attractions that are normally open to the public at least 28 days a year or which host public events. By this we mean that your heritage site should be accessible to the public (for free or paid) and that the focus of the day is sharing the heritage you care for.
- For profit businesses that are a vital part of the heritage ecosystem and who generate the largest portion of their income from heritage work. This includes conservators, contractors, specialists, suppliers and cooperatives.
- organisations that manage culturally significant assets or collections
- organisations that provide significant support to the heritage sector
- faith organisations that manage listed places of worship
- non-accredited museums
Applicants must be properly constituted as an organisation. The kinds of organisations that are eligible to apply include:
- Limited Companies registered at Companies House
- Community Interest Companies (CICs) registered with the CIC regulator
- charitable incorporated organisations (CIOs) registered with the Charity Commission
- charitable companies or charitable trusts registered with the Charity Commission
- limited liability partnerships registered at Companies House
- partnerships established under a partnership deed/ agreement
- community benefit and co-operative societies regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- Royal Charter bodies
- statutory bodies and other public bodies including Universities and museums who run or maintain cultural services
- private owners of nationally-significant heritage sites, venues or attractions which are normally open to the public 28 days a year or more or which regularly host events attended by members of the public
Organisations must also be able to demonstrate that they:
- are on track to spend 90% of the most recent grant they were awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage by 29 October 2021 (please note this does not include any portion of a previous grant awarded to top up reserves).
- are at risk of ceasing to trade viably by 31 March 2022. By ‘ceasing to trade viably’ we mean you can demonstrate that, without additional support, your organisation would not have the ability to generate sufficient income or have sufficient cash reserves (or near-cash reserves where it is appropriate to liquidate them) in order to meet operating payments and debt commitments. This is similar to the definition of cash-flow insolvency. However, given the unique circumstances of many cultural organisations (including the importance of cultural assets in their reserves) we will take a balanced view in the round as to whether your organisation is at risk of no longer trading viably, based on the evidence presented in your application.
If your projected reserves position at 31 January is greater than 8 weeks or more free cash reserves, you are still eligible to apply to the Culture Recovery Fund : Continuity Support programme, however please provide information on any restricted balances and an explanation as to why these reserves are insufficient to support your viability, and why you need additional support from the Continuity Support fund.
Local authorities, universities and other public sector
If you are a statutory or public body, you can apply to this programme for the relevant heritage services that you operate. You can only make one application to the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, either one application for a single heritage service or one application for multiple heritage services. You can also apply to the Arts Council England and British Film Institute’s Culture Recovery Fund programmes for other cultural services relevant to their programmes. The total request across all applications and rounds can be no more than £4,000,000. You may not apply to different funds for the same costs for your heritage asset/service.
Your supporting documents should just be for the heritage service or services you are applying for and not your organisation as a whole.
We expect parent organisations to do everything possible to maintain support for individual services. Where this is not the case, parent organisations must provide a clear explanation of the change in support and the reasons behind it. If budgets for the next financial year are not known, a clear explanation of the assumptions being made is required.
Where a Local Authority or University is in receipt of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund in the first and/or second rounds to support a specific service or subsidiaries, they are only eligible to apply for Continuity Support for costs related to the same services or subsidiaries.
Multiple heritage asset/site owners/managers
If you manage more than one heritage asset/site, please submit one application for your organisation as a whole. The costs can be linked to a single asset/site or multiple assets/sites.
We expect parent organisations to do everything possible to maintain support for individual services. Where this is not the case, parent organisations must provide a clear explanation of the change in support and the reasons behind it. If budgets for next financial year are not known, a clear explanation of the assumptions being made is required.
Under this programme we are not accepting applications from:
- Organisations that manage heritage that are not in England. If your organisation is based in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales and you manage heritage in England, you can apply for a proportion of your organisation's costs related to the heritage in England.
- Organisations that were not operating sustainably before March 2020.
- Organisations that can apply for support from the Culture Recovery Fund through Arts Council England (accredited museums or museums that are working towards accreditation, combined arts and museums, visual arts, music, literature, theatre, dance) or The British Film Institute (independent cinemas).
- Organisations that manage or preserve natural habitats and species, as the main focus of their activity.
- Sole traders and individuals (except private owners of nationally significant heritage sites, venues or attractions that are normally open to the public at least 28 days a year or which host events which the public can attend on at least 28 days a year)
- DCMS and MOD sponsored museums
- Private members’ clubs constituted as companies and registered at Companies House or as unincorporated associations
- Local authority public library services
- Culture Recovery Fund Repayable Finance recipients
- Organisations that were not properly constituted, and registered with the relevant regulatory body where applicable, on or before 31 March 2019.
- Anyone who has not already received a grant under the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, round One, Round Two or Emergency Resource Support .
If you feel your organisation is not eligible for this funding but that you own a heritage asset of national significance that is at risk of loss to the nation, we advise you look at the funding options available through the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF). Projects applying under the NHMF must be concerned with buying, maintaining or preserving objects, collections, buildings or land that are of particular importance to the national heritage of the UK or the item/s must also be in some way outstanding. This could be because of rarity, quality, association with a historic figure or event or designations.
For a full list of other funding opportunities from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and funding opportunities from Historic England are available to view online. You can also find the details of other funding options on Historic England’s website or the Heritage Funding Directory.
Aims of this funding
This strand of funding is to cover core operating costs for organisations, up to a point where they can demonstrate a return to financial viability. Funding cannot extend beyond 31 January 2022. It will support organisations who have already received funding under the Culture Recovery Fund as we transition out of the COVID-19 lockdown, resume business activity and the public starts to engage with England’s diverse heritage once again.
You can bid for a grant to support the operational costs your organisation faces as it works to become financially viable and transitions towards full reopening. This funding will support your organisation to build up or sustain your operations and help to restart your organisation’s usual activities. This will be fulfilled with a view to ensuring that by the end of January 2022, your organisation will be operating on a viable and sustainable basis.
You will need to consider the most effective route to full reopening and future sustainability for your organisation. This funding is only available for organisations which require continued support to return to sustainability, and have a plan to maintain this sustainability through the financial year 2022-23.
Assumptions about the public health context for business planning
For consistency of assessment, all applicants should apply using the assumption that the public health measures at the time of application will remain in place throughout the grant period. However, as set out elsewhere in this guidance, you should make clear if and how your plans would be impacted by changes in the public health situation.
Through this programme, you can apply to cover costs associated with shortfalls in income and costs to stabilise your business during the period 1 October 2021 – to 31 January 2022. We expect this shortfall to be a result of reduced trading and loss of earned income as restrictions are removed. Please note that the application and amount of funding applied for must be based on income and expenditure from previous years, adjusted to reflect the current situation to ensure the application is evidence based.
Costs that you can request to be covered under this programme are:
- staffing: including existing staff, rehiring, recruiting staff or contract staff and paying for redundancy
- overheads: to cover utilities, core operating costs, any fixed monthly costs, or the costs to cover the income gap to ensure that disabled people and those that are clinically vulnerable have access to cultural organisations and activities
We would not expect the combined total for these two cost headings to be more than your average turnover (pre-COVID-19). To cover the shortfall over 4 months’ worth of costs we would expect your application to be less than one third of your annual turnover.
In your application and Business Action Plan and Cash Flow you will need to make the case that this shortfall is the result of reduced income and other available funds, as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Full or partial repayment or clearance of COVID-related debt incurred since 1 April 2021 is eligible through this programme, though this does not include affordable lending, such as use of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans (CBILS)
If you can demonstrate that you will have less than eight weeks reserves 31 January 2022 you can include costs to build your reserves back up to cover a maximum of eight weeks turnover from 1 February 2022 (Local Authorities and Universities cannot include these costs).
Future Income Generation
In addition to your ongoing costs, we acknowledge that there may be additional “one-off” costs associated with restarting your business and to help you to become financially sustainable and increase your ability to generate income. These “one-off” costs should be up to a maximum of 20% of the operational expenditure (staffing and overheads) you apply for. These can’t be for new projects or activities but should allow you to adapt any existing activities that were already approved under your Round One or Round Two Culture Recovery Fund grant, and core business.
Costs can include:
- purchasing or installing essential COVID-19 related equipment
- stabilising heritage that is at immediate risk (for example, scaffolding or urgent minor conservation work that does not require consent or permission)
- adaptations to help you operate (for example, personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and volunteers, screens and contactless payment methods, shelters for queues or additional toilets)
- essential IT equipment and connectivity costs to support homeworking
- activities to enable your organisation to put information online and to interact with your community/customers if your site is closed, for example, digital expertise, equipment or customer relationship management system.
- business support work to enable a review of your governance/management/operational model and/or finances. If your haven’t completed one of these in the last 12 months we would suggest you include the costs in your application.
- covering costs/losses eligible to be supported through other sources (for example other COVID-19 support schemes, such as the Job Retention Scheme)
- the optional salary costs not covered by the Government’s Job Retention Scheme for hours not worked by staff on furlough, or any additional optional salary costs for hours not worked above the furloughing cap
- any operational costs incurred before 1 October 2021 and operating costs beyond 31 January 2022
- clearing significant historic debt incurred before 1 April 2021
- anything that contravenes Government’s advice on COVID-19
- new projects or activity that is not essential to your continued operations or that is unrelated to the reopening of businesses in a COVID-safe manner
- costs already covered through other emergency support funding
- full or partial repayment of Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans or Bounce Back Loans
- full or partial repayment of historic structured loans
- full or partial repayment of tax bills and fines
- costs that are supported by an insurance pay-out (e.g. if planned activity does not take place)
- capital works, such as major repair projects
- paid for lobbying, which means using grant funds to fund lobbying (via an external firm or in-house staff) in order to undertake activities intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political activity or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action
- using grant funds to directly enable one part of government to challenge another on topics unrelated to the agreed purpose of the grant
- using grant funding to petition for additional funding
- expenses such as for entertaining, specifically aimed at exerting undue influence to change government policy
- input VAT reclaimable by the grant recipient from HMRC
- payments for activities of a party political or exclusively religious nature
- any costs in excess of £1m
- any costs that are not listed in the ‘Eligible Costs’ sections but may be/have been eligible under previous rounds or strands of the Culture Recovery Fund
- costs related to promotion of faith
The costs you can apply for should cover the period from 1 October 2021 to 31 January 2022.
There is no partnership funding requirement for this programme.
How to apply
We are unable to offer detailed pre-application advice for this programme. Please read the guidance and check that you are eligible to apply. You must provide your organisation's full name as shown on your previous Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage awards.
Read the application questions and prepare your answers in advance. You must complete your application in one go, you cannot save your application or return to it. We recommend you draft your answers before starting an application. Make sure you keep within the 3,000-word limit for the application form.
You will be asked to provide information on your organisation including:
- your current financial position
- any additional funding you have secured to support you through the pandemic
- plans up to March 2023
- an update on how you managed your previous Culture Recovery Fund grant
Alongside your application form, you will need to submit mandatory supporting documents. You must use the templates which can be downloaded from our supporting documents page. Once you submit your application, you will receive an email with further instructions on how to submit these.
Please note: your application is not complete until you submit the mandatory supporting documents on the templates provided. You must send us your supporting documents within two working days of you submitting your application through our portal. We cannot start to assess your application until your supporting documents are received.
Alongside any application you make you will need to provide:
- Financial accounts: we will want to see your accounts for financial years 2019/20 and 2020/21. You should submit accounts that have been independently audited or certified, though we understand this may not always be possible in the timeframe available. Please ensure the financial documents are for the organisation named in your application. For example, providing consolidated accounts for the full charity if it contains subsidiaries.
- Your current management accounts: we will want to see a log of your income and expenditure from the date you were awarded a grant from the Culture Recovery Fund to the point of application. You should highlight within this where you have spent your grant.
- Balance sheet: this should show your organisation’s current financial status at point of application and should include evidence of your reserve levels.
- Costs: a completed cost template outlining the costs that you are applying for.
- Government loans and grants checklist: you should complete our template and let us know whether or not you have been able to access any other government loans or grants. If you have, you should tell us how much money you have been given and the time period this covers.
- Cashflow template: this should demonstrate the income and expenditure for your organisation from point of application to 31 January 2022.
- Business action plan: If you received a grant under the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund this will be a new document that you will need to complete. If you received a grant under the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund you will need to update and extend your business action plan to cover this new time period. This plan must include the steps you will take to make your organisation financially viable up to March 2023 and should be based on the public health assumptions laid out earlier in this guidance. Within this we expect you to clearly lay out how you would spend your grant up to 31 January 2022 and your plans for future sustainability up to March 2023.
Templates are available to download on our supporting documents page.
Organisations should aim to minimise the impact on government funding by demonstrating that they have been prudent in their plans and have done what they can to minimise the income gap they are seeking support to fill. Organisations must be able to demonstrate this in their application as competition for funds is expected to be very high. We want to ensure that the additional funds made available via this programme are allocated to those organisations with the greatest need for further financial support as the legal limits on social contact begin to lift and as other government support measures come to an end .
Please note that the application and amount of funding applied for must be calculated with reference to income and expenditure from previous years (adjusted to reflect the current situation), to ensure the application is evidence based.
Although we will take into account your trading performance from recent months, there is no assumption that future months’ trading performance will fully align with this period. Organisations should outline their best forecasts in their application, detailing why this deviates from July/August performance.
If you are a Local Authority, University or other public body
Your supporting documents should just be for the heritage service or services you are applying for and not for your organisation as a whole.
Support with your application
We have designed the application process to be as straightforward as possible and we are requesting only the information we need. We will not be able to provide individual support on your application. Please read this guidance before you start your application.
For technical support or assistance with accessibility, please contact our customer service team by email: email@example.com
For specific queries about the programme, please contact: CultureRecoveryFund@heritagefund.org.uk
We will be holding monthly decision meetings and consider your application to the next closest meeting. The first will be in September/October and the final will be in December 2021.
We aim to inform you of our decision within eight weeks from the point of application.
Whilst we aim to work as quickly as possible through the process, we cannot guarantee a timeframe by which we will reach a decision as we may need more information or time to explore each request depending on the complexity or scale of the request.
How will we assess applications?
When assessing your application, we will consider whether you meet the eligibility criteria for the programme. If you meet this criteria we will progress your application to full assessment.
If you do not meet our eligibility criteria we will let you know as soon as possible and withdraw your application from the assessment process. When informing you of this decision we will let you know which of the eligibility criteria you do not meet. This does not mean that you cannot apply to the Continuity Support strand again at a later date if your situation changes. If your application completes the assessment process, is considered by our decision makers and is unsuccessful, you will not be able to apply again.
If we continue to assess your application we will assess it against the following financial criteria:
- any money from previous Culture Recovery Fund investment will be insufficient to make up your operating deficit
- you will be running an operating deficit during period
- you have exhausted all other reasonable options for finance
- you are at risk of ceasing to trade viably by 31 March 2022
- you have or are taking steps to maximise your income and reduce costs
- whether any previous Culture Recovery Fund grants was used appropriately
We will also consider if your plans and risk level are proportionate to the amount of funding you are applying for and the size and scale of your organisation. Where an organisation is increasing its levels of activity, it will be asked to make a case for this being the most prudent approach to achieving future viability. Similarly, we cannot subsidise the costs to reduce your normal activity unless there is a clear rationale for this.
We are expecting more demand for this programme than we have funding available. Following our assessment of all applications received, we will then look at a range of additional ‘balancing criteria’ to consider if we are achieving the right spread of investment.
The balancing criteria we will consider are those used in the Culture Recovery Fund round one and round two and may look at the heritage significance and cultural and economic impact of organisations as evidenced in previous Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage applications.
Decisions will be made by trustees of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, taking into account recommendations from staff and Trustees at The Heritage Fund and Historic England.
If you have applied for more than £1m (either in this round, or cumulatively over this and previous rounds), we may share your application with the Culture Recovery Board (or a subset of the board) appointed by DCMS and ask them for comments before a final decision is taken. Where applications are judged to be complex, these may also be shared with the Culture Recovery Board.
Conditions of funding
If you are awarded a grant, we will require you to renew your commitment to our terms of grant, which include specific requirements from DCMS, including:
- Where contracts allow and organisations are legally able to do so, pay freeze for all senior staff (those earning £100,000 per annum or more) for at least 18 months following your award under Continuity Support, plus 10% pay reductions to pre-COVID pay for those above a £150k threshold, including cancelling bonuses.
- demonstrate a commitment to open up access and increase the diversity of its audiences, visitors and/or participants, as well as its organisational diversity
- demonstrate a commitment to Government targets on achieving Net Zero by 2050 and to climate disclosures
- demonstrate a commitment to increase educational outreach
- ensure you take reasonable steps to protect the heritage assets you are responsible for, in particular their physical estates
- participate in the proportionate monitoring and evaluation of this programme
- the organisation will comply with legislation relating to Subsidy Control
- keep a full audit trail of all expenditure related to the grant award and all receipts and documents may be requested at any time for checking
- Where costs included in your application are also covered by insurance and a claim is successfully made, or a pay-out for an existing claim is received, your Culture Recovery Fund grant may be affected or reduced. In such a situation you will need to notify us.
In considering any future application you make to The National Lottery Heritage Fund or Historic England, we will take into consideration whether these conditions have been implemented.
If your application scored Not Met against Opening up access in your application to the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, Round Two, we will ask for you to provide a progress update on your Opening up access Milestone Plan as a condition of your grant.
If we award you a grant
If we award you a grant, we will send you a letter which outlines the conditions of the grant and includes the amount you have been awarded.
Reduced award offer
When assessing your application, we will make a judgement on whether there is sufficient evidence provided to support the level of funding requested. We may offer a reduced amount of funding. We will deduct any ineligible expenditure from your grant request, and may make other reductions based on the level of demand for funding. Within your grant notification letter, we will explain the reasons for reducing any grant offered.
Should an adjustment be necessary to the overall fund budget, we may need to offer reduced grants accordingly.
Where a grant is for activity that is also covered by insurance and the activity does not take place, resulting in an insurance pay-out to cover the costs, your Culture Recovery Fund grant may be affected. In such a situation your final payment will be reduced unless you can show that the grant was spent on other eligible costs in line with the original purposes of the grant.
How we will pay the grant
The funding can only be paid into a UK based bank account.
When you submit your request for payment we may review your organisation's financial viability. If your organisation is in a stronger position than you had predicted in your original application, we may decide to reduce your total grant in line with your financial need.
More details on how to claim your grant will be provided to you in our receiving a grant guidance.
Publicising your award
Successful applicants may be asked to publicise their grant in a proportionate manner. We will provide more information on how to do this in your grant award letter.
Reporting on your progress and evaluation
All grantees will be required to participate in monitoring and evaluation of this programme. Over the next few months we will monitor the health of your organisation.
DCMS will be evaluating the impact of the whole fund and will require you to take part in some data collection to support this work. We will provide more information about this requirement as soon as it is available.
At the point of publication of this guidance, public funding for organisations is no longer governed by the European Commission’s ‘State aid’ rules as set out in Article 107-109 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union and associated regulations and guidelines. Instead all grant decisions made after 11pm on the 31 December 2020 are subject to the new UK subsidy control regime, the principles of which are set out in Chapter 3 (Subsidies) of Title XI (Level Playing Field) of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Full further guidance is available from the Government website.
A consultation has been conducted and there will possibly be new legislation in this area to build upon the principles. You will be expected to comply with the principles of the subsidy control regime and to satisfy any future requirements. Agreements that have been entered into will be reviewed and varied accordingly. We reserve the right to impose further requirements and additional conditions in relation to this matter.
It is an applicant’s responsibility to check whether State aid or subsidy control clearance is required. Applicants should seek independent legal advice if they are unsure whether a project will require clearance.
Making a complaint
We understand that you may be disappointed with the outcome of your application. We can only review our decision again if you make a complaint about how we have dealt with your Cultural Recovery Fund for Heritage application. We have a two stage complaint process for this fund.
We will only be able to consider and investigate the complaint if:
- we did not follow the published procedures for assessing your application
- you can show that we have misunderstood a significant part of your application
- you can show that we did not take notice of relevant information
A complaint must be made in writing by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org within 10 working days of receiving your feedback from your application decision. We aim to acknowledge your complaint within three working days.
Your complaint will initially be reviewed by an area/country director from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, who is independent of recommendation and decision panels for this fund.
We aim to communicate a decision within 15 working days from when you submitted your complaint.
For assistance, contact our Customer Services Team on 020 7591 6044 or email: email@example.com
Changes to this guidance
We have developed this funding programme very quickly in order to respond to the immediate needs of the heritage sector. We will continue to review our processes to ensure we are able to provide support where it is needed. We reserve the right to make any changes needed to the guidance and programme. We will communicate any changes as quickly as possible via this webpage.