Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Heritage Lottery Fund

  In advance of our appearance before the Committee on 1 May I am sending, as requested, a background note on the work of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

  The Committee will be familiar with our work from your inquiry into our operation and activities in 1998. This resulted in a broad range of recommendations, many of which we were able to build directly into our first Strategic Plan (1999-2002). The background note illustrates the diversity of our achievements. It demonstrates the breadth of our remit and shows how we are well placed to deliver benefits not just to the heritage alone, but to communities, economies and the quality of people's lives.

  We have:

    —  supported more than 10,000 projects since 1995, committing more than 2 billion to the heritage across the whole of the UK, and drawing in a further 2.2 billion from other sources;

    —  devolved our decision taking for grants of up to 1 million to committees in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and each of the regions of England;

    —  simplified our application and assessment procedures for grants of up to 50,000 (Your Heritage).

  Our first Strategic Plan ran until the end of March. We are now entering our second strategic planning period. We will be laying the new plan before Parliament in early May prior to launching it publicly on 15 May. Shortly after, we will also be relaunching our application materials, making them easier to navigate and more user friendly.

  This is an exciting time for the Fund. The tone of our new strategic plan will be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but there will be some marked changes which the extensive consultation we undertook last year suggests will be welcomed by applicants. Through our consultation exercise we posed a series of open questions to which over 300 organisations and individuals responded.

  We supplemented this through workshops, seminars and focus groups, with input from a further 600 people. This provided us with a solid platform for key themes of our new plan including: focusing on conserving the heritage and making it more accessible to the public; adopting a broad understanding of heritage; involving a wide range of organisations as partners; helping applicants raise their capacity to submit bids for funding.

  We believe that heritage matters to the quality of all our lives, helping us to understand where we have come from and our role in society today, and we look forward to the opportunity to discuss this with you on 1 May.




  The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) distributes the heritage share of funds raised by the National Lottery. Our mission is to improve the quality of life by safeguarding and enhancing the heritage of buildings, objects and the environment, whether man-made or natural, which have been important in the formation of the character and identity of the United Kingdom; assisting people to appreciate and enjoy their heritage, and allowing them to hand it on in good heart to future generations. The HLF is a non-departmental public body, with a board of Trustees appointed by the Prime Minister.


  The Heritage Lottery Fund has committed 2 billion to over 10,000 projects across the UK. In securing the long-term aims of conservation in different heritage areas the HLF looks beyond physical restoration and preservation to ensure that the UK's heritage plays a purposeful role in the life of the nation. Projects include restoring hundreds of historic buildings often for community use and rescuing over thousands of hectares of ancient woodland and threatened natural habitats for people's enjoyment. Over 202 million has been invested in around 324 urban parks across the UK, and 931 museums and galleries around the country have benefited from Heritage Lottery Fund grants. Support has been given to restoring historic ships, funding new buildings to house collections, rescuing the heart of the Cairngorms, restoring canals and breathing new life into inner cities through townscape schemes.

  HLF's commitment to making heritage more accessible moved one step further in 1999 with the opening of offices in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff at the same time as decision-making committees were set up in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, HLF's commitment to regional decision-making moved a step forward in April 2001 with the setting up of nine regional English committees.


  As a result of the extension of our powers in the National Heritage Act 1997, and revised Directions from the Secretary of State, we are now able to fund a much wider range of projects. We can support stand-alone access and education projects as well as activity-based projects to conserve and protect the heritage. We welcome applications in these fields.

  In England, grants for churches and other places of worship are funded through a joint scheme run in partnership with English Heritage. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland grants for places of worship may be applied for under the main grants' programme.


  Any not-for-profit organisation may apply for an award from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project that meets its criteria. We do not rule out support for capital or revenue projects which include privately-owned property as part of wider area, or "umbrella" schemes put forward by a public or other not-for-profit organisation. For the time being, however, we do not expect to make grants for projects concerning individual sites or buildings in private or commercial ownership. And support for such cases elements of a wider area scheme must demonstrate that the level of public benefit provided clearly outweighs any incidental private gain.


  Applicants need to show that their project will help to preserve and enhance; or widen public access to, or understanding and enjoyment of, one or more aspects of the physical heritage:

    —  natural habitats, and countryside of local, regional or national importance urban green spaces, including historic parks;

    —  archaeological projects;

    —  historic buildings and sites, including townscape;

    —  museum collections;

    —  historic library collections and archives, including photographic, sound and film archives; and

    —  industrial, transport and maritime heritage.

  The Heritage Lottery Fund also funds projects primarily aimed at extending access to the heritage, including projects aimed at compiling, and providing public access to, information in any medium relating to an important aspect of the history, natural history or landscape of the United Kingdom.

  We take particular account of access and educational benefits in all projects, and maintain an overview of distribution of our grants to ensure, as far as possible, a regional equity in our funding.


  We have:

    —  helped 1,197 nature conservation projects to get underway, saving many rare plants from extinction, preserving fragile environments and delivering 72 per cent of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan targets for lowland heathland restoration; and

    —  invested in wide-ranging improvements to more than 200 historic parks in our towns and cities through our popular "Urban Parks Programme" which supports restoration and re-planting as well as improved play and other public facilities, prioritising applications from parks which serve deprived communities.


  We have:

    —  supported 5,000 smaller local and community based projects including more than 100 oral history projects and some 400 projects relating to black and minority ethnic heritage; and

    —  supported over 600 separate grants for educational projects providing special educational facilities or education, access and outreach officers.

    —  piloted an innovative "Young Roots" programme aimed at involving 13-20 year olds with their heritage through their informal learning networks such as youth clubs and community groups, eliciting 79 per cent of applications from groups working with disaffected young people.

    —  made 3,397 grants through the easy to apply to "Awards for All" scheme.


  We have:

    —  committed funds for restoration work in 100 historic towns, prioritising applications from deprived areas, and thereby improving the quality of life from Walsall to Margate, Rhymney and the Priory Green Estate in London.

    —  helped to ensure the future community use of 1,082 historic places of worship through a scheme which—in England—is focussed on areas of deprivation and former coalfields, thereby supporting 205 projects in 57 of the most deprived areas of England.

    —  awarded over 570 million to over 2,000 historic buildings and sites, many of which will assist regeneration through both economic and environmental benefits for the local community.


  We have:

    —  boosted tourism with support of more than 120 million to refurbish and regenerate our coastal resorts, including 10 million to seaside piers.

    —  revitalised 573 separate museums and collections—from fine art or science to football—with grants of over 699 million for extensions, refurbishments or acquisitions, including all the UK's top 10 most visited museums and over 350 local authority museums.

    —  awarded 487 grants supporting the UK's documentary heritage in archives and special libraries, contributing to better conservation, greater public access and improved public facilities.

    —  supported 431 projects related to industrial, maritime and transport heritage including 44 projects to restore ships (25.7 million), more than 35 million to projects focussed on canals and waterways, and funding for all the UK's national mining museums.

    —  research commissioned by HLF shows that HLF money has played a major role in revitalising a number of individual heritage attractions. The profile of the attraction is raised, the quality of the visitor experience is improved, visitor figures are very impressive (several sites have reported increases of over 30 per cent), and the impact on the local economy is often considerable.


  This scheme is aimed at small groups providing a simplified, "one-door" approach to applying for small grants between 500 and 5,000 from the National Lottery. It is jointly supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Councils of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Sports Councils for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the New Opportunities Fund and the Community Fund. Each year Awards for All supports more than 12,000 groups with nearly 40 million. These grants make a real difference to small groups, strengthening community activity and encouraging participation.


  The Local Heritage Initiative is designed to provide grants to encourage communities in England to get involved with and take practical care of their local heritage. The Heritage Lottery Fund supported the scheme with 8 million for the period 1999-2002 and the scheme is administered by the Countryside Agency. Pilot schemes are also underway in Wales and Scotland. Projects supported to date have received HLF grants typically ranging from 3,000 to 15,000.


  Your Heritage is designed to support a wide range of projects from buying, conserving, repairing and interpreting land, buildings, archives and collections, through to projects designed to improve access and education, and scheme which encourage participation in and enjoyment of our heritage. The programme was devised by the HLF to make it quicker and easier for people to apply for smaller grants (from 5,000 and 50,000) and the HLF hopes to attract interest from community groups who have not previously benefited from Lottery funding.


  All applications to us for support for a project costing more than 500,000 go through a two-stage process. This process enables us to give an early decision on whether a major project is likely to be considered for support, without the need for applicants to carry out full-sclae project development prior to submission of their application.


  All applications under the two-stage process seeking a grant of 5 million or more are processed in competitive bidding rounds. Deadlines for rounds of funding are set at six-monthly intervals. Heritage Lottery Fund receives more applications for large-scale projects than it can support and this system ensures that funding is directed to the most worthwhile schemes.


  We assess all applications to us against criteria described in our application materials. These cover issues such as the importance of the project to the heritage; the conservation benefits of the project; the access and additional public benefits of the project; its quality of design; its financial viability; and the ability of the applicant to deliver.


  HLF seeks to ensure that applicants' projects are supported by an element of funding from non-lottery sources—"partnership funding". This demonstrates to the Fund the level of commitment on the part of the local community or potential beneficiaries or users of the project, whilst also ensuring the widest use of our available funds. HLF has a flexible approach to partnership funding, setting different minimum percentages according to the size of the grant requested. If the total eligible project costs are less than 100,000, a minimum of 10 per cent funding from other sources is required.


  The Heritage Lottery Fund operates a National Help Desk for all members of the public and applicants on 020 7591 6041/2/3/4/5, during office hours Monday to Friday. Our offices in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can be reached on 0131 225 9450, 028 9031 0120 and 029 2034 3413 respectively.


  The Heritage Lottery Fund works with and takes advice from 22 statutory heritage agencies including Cadw (the Historic Buildings Council for Wales), English Heritage, Historic Scotland, the Countryside Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales, the Department of Environment Northern Ireland, Scottish Natural Heritage, English Nature, the Museums and Galleries Commission, the Area Museums Councils and the Royal Commission on Historic Manuscripts. All applications with the exception of Awards for All, are also referred to the relevant local authority.

22 April 2002


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