Heritage Emergency Fund FAQs

Heritage Emergency Fund FAQs

Illustration of speech bubbles, one with a question mark
The National Lottery Heritage Fund has put together a £50million fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  

Last updated: 18 June 2020

These FAQs are designed to help organisations understand the Heritage Emergency Fund. Applicants should also read the full application guidance

The FAQs are divided into three sections:

  • Heritage Emergency Fund 
  • Application process 
  • Existing grantees and our open programmes


Heritage Emergency Fund 


Yes. You can contact your local team and they will be able to give you advice about whether or not your organisation should apply to the Heritage Emergency Fund. They will also be able to give you advice about the types of things we can support through the fund and which strand of funding might be most appropriate to help your organisation and heritage.

Yes, the Heritage Emergency Fund can cover some of the costs to help you begin to think about recovery. This could include trialling new ways of working to improve the stability of your organisation.

We also have a wider package of support for the heritage sector including our Digital Skills for Heritage initiative and business support training.

No. If you accrue costs between the submission of your application and our decision to award funding, we will cover that period. 

We cannot fund any costs incurred from the time before you submit your application.  

Yes. These are emergency grants and we will pay them as quickly as possible. 

We expect you to use your unrestricted reserves as far as is reasonable to help your organisation through the current difficulties. By large unrestricted reserves we mean those organisations that have reserves to support at least six months of operations. The guidance for the Heritage Emergency Fund sets out who can apply and how we will prioritise applications. If you do apply, you should explain your approach to your use of unrestricted reserves in your application.

Places of worship can apply to the fund for emergency costs associated with the protection of their heritage. Please be sure to review all of the guidance before proceeding with an application. You should explore whether your needs can be supported through other emergency funds before submitting an application to us. If you are interested in accessing funds to support community coronavirus (COVID-19) response you should contact relevant community support funds.

Other sources of funding are available within the sector. Prospective applicants may want to explore the opportunities for support offered by Historic England and the National Churches Trust. For Church of England applicants, parishes should be in touch with their diocese to explore any support that might be available in advance of applying to the Heritage Emergency Fund. Those from other faiths and denominations should likewise contact their regional or national bodies first.

No. We expect organisations to make a single application to the Heritage Emergency Fund. The fund is to help organisations to stabilise operations, manage unforeseen risks and reopen/recover. You should only apply to us for essential costs but these can be made up of costs across several heritage sites/assets.

Yes, you can apply but organisations that completed their last National Lottery Heritage Fund project over 10 years ago will be a lower priority for support.

Please review the Heritage Emergency Fund guidance and contact your local team to discuss your options. We will be working collaboratively with partners across the sector to try to secure the best outcomes for people and heritage.  

We are working on providing support and advice to help organisations improve their resilience and increase digital skills. Our Digital Skills for Heritage initiative is available to our existing grantees and the wider heritage sector, including non-grantees. 

Other sources of funding available are listed on our website.

The Heritage Emergency Fund can be used to support essential IT equipment and connectivity costs to support homeworking and public facing activity.

For example, where the organisation does not own any IT equipment and/or staff members do not have access to broadband, the costs of laptops and data plans can be included in bids for support. Only essential costs should be submitted here, and any equipment costs should be as competitive as possible.

By ‘public facing’ we mean activities that enable the organisation to put information about itself online and interact with its community. For example, sending out email newsletters, updating a website or blog, posting information to social media sites or taking part in video conference calls.

Our Digital Skills for Heritage initiative supports organisations to develop their digital practice during the current crisis and beyond.

Yes. From 1 July the scheme becomes more flexible. The flexibility is available to employers currently using the scheme to furlough staff. Employees can return to work part time from furlough as part of this flexibility. Individual organisations can decide the hours and shift patterns their employees will work on their return, so that they can decide on the best approach for their organisations - and will be responsible for paying their wages while in work. The CJRS will continue to pay the a proportion of the costs for the furloughed part of their salary.

We can pay for the costs of part time staff returning to work from furlough, providing the employer can make the case that the staff are needed to meet the outcomes of our funding and will manage the heritage or recovery/reopening work.

We will allow current Heritage Emergency Fund grantees to reprofile their existing grants based on this updated advice. We advise current Heritage Emergency Fund grantees to contact their Investment Manager to discuss.


Application process


The software the form has been built with does not allow this for data and privacy reasons. We have deliberately kept the application form short and focused so it can all be completed in one go.

We recommend that you read the guidance carefully and prepare your answers in advance of starting to complete the form.

We will send you an email response when it has been received. Please remember to check all your inboxes, including your spam/junk inbox.

If you have not heard from us within three working days of submitting your application please contact us.

You cannot proceed with an application to the Heritage Emergency Fund without this number.

The reference number will have been used on all correspondence with your organisation about your previous grant(s) and this information will still be available via the application portal. You can log on to the application portal via any computer as long as you have your log in details.

You can also contact your local office and request your grant reference number.

We are not able to do this so it is important that you save a copy of the information you plan to submit in your application.

Please check your spam. If you have not heard from us within three days of submitting your application please contact us.

You can use a non-work email for this application form.

You will need to get this information or you cannot proceed with an application to the Heritage Emergency Fund. You need current financial information to be able to complete the application and supporting materials.

Once we have a complete application (form and supporting information) we will pass your application for assessment. We will make a decision on your application within two to four weeks.

A panel made up of members of our senior management team will meet every two weeks to make decisions. 

This will include representatives from the four nations. We will ensure that projects across the UK that are in most need are able to access funding. We will monitor the spread of funding (eg by geography and sector) to ensure that all parts of the UK and all types of heritage are benefiting.  

The Heritage Emergency Fund is designed to help with essential running and reopening costs for your organisation over the next four months. We are not accepting repeat applications to the Heritage Emergency Fund.

If your circumstances have changed or if you now need reopening/recovery costs which have arisen since your application, please contact your Investment Manager for advice.

No. If your application was not successful at the £3,000 - £50,000 strand then we do not recommend you apply to the £50,000 - £250,000 strand.

No. If our decision panel decides that you need support but are not in a position to award the level of grant requested, they will offer you the amount they are prepared to award. If your application was not successful then you should not make any further applications to the Heritage Emergency Fund.

No. There is no provision for appeal or reapplications. 

We understand that you may be disappointed with a decision. You can make a complaint about how we have dealt with your application after it has been assessed by the decision panel but 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 enquire@heritagefund.org.uk within 10 working days of receiving your application decision. We aim to acknowledge your complaint within three working days.

Your complaint will be reviewed by a Complaints Panel, who are independent of the Heritage Emergency Fund Decision Panel. We aim to communicate a decision within 15 working days from when you submitted your complaint.

This is a single stage process and there is no right to review this response. If your complaint is upheld, your application will be re-submitted for assessment. 

Contact our Customer Services Team on 020 7591 6044 or email enquire@heritagefund.org.uk


Existing grantees and applicants


We are committed to supporting our existing grantees and will be discussing with you how the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis affects your current project/s. We want to be as flexible as possible in supporting you through this.  

We will try to be as flexible as possible with the terms of your grant/delivery of your project. 

If you need to delay your project, you should speak to your Investment Manager or Senior Investment Manager in your local office. 

We have paused our grants so we can focus on our emergency response and support heritage organisations most at risk.

We know this is very tough if you are preparing an application or awaiting a funding decision. We will publish more details about future grants in due course.

We will not be reopening the normal funding programmes until at least October 2020. We are keeping the situation under constant review as we gather insight into the changing needs of heritage and the heritage sector.

You should only restart your funded project if it is safe to do. You should continue to follow the government’s guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19). If you feel that it is safe to restart your funded project, you should contact your Investment Manager for further advice about your next steps.

We are continuing to support the thousands of projects we already have in delivery and development across the UK. We are helping projects review and understand their needs, discuss changes of scope or cost and, wherever possible, we are being flexible on payments, grant conditions and reporting requirements. All projects need to appraise their options before seeking additional funding.

We advise grantees to contact their Investment Manager as early as possible to discuss their situation and for further  information about the range of support we can offer. We will consider requests to increase the amount of funding that we have awarded to a project following a review of the options available and will advise you of the process to follow.

Please note that we have limited funds and will not be able to support every request.

No. We are accepting requests at any time.


Please contact your Investment Manager if your project is experiencing difficulties as early as possible so we can discuss how we may help. As part of the options available to you, we would expect you to have a conversation with all of your funders to establish whether they can also provide increases to their grant awards.

No. We expect projects in development to complete without further increases to our initial grant award. You should discuss the options with your Investment Manager should you encounter problems delivering all of the approved purposes within your available budget. 

We would strongly advise you to sign up to our newsletter and follow our social media channels:

All updated information will appear on our website.

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