Standing up for Heritage

Lottery fund for heritage renamed

The long-awaited changes to the distribution of lottery funds for heritage projects begins with a change of name.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (or HLF) has become the National Lottery Heritage Fund, a subtle change designed to give more prominence to the role of lottery players in the funding of great heritage causes and hopefully an encouragement to the British public to continue to buy lottery tickets.

So, HLF is no more but the Heritage Fund (as it will almost certainly become known) is very much alive and remains the most obvious source of significant funding for heritage projects. To help our clients understand the new ‘Strategic Funding Framework 2019-2024’, we’ve carefully examined the guidelines and produced a detailed summary, which you can also request via our website.

Here, we offer a sample of the headline changes, so that you can decide whether an application for Lottery funding is right for your project.

‘A wider range of people will be involved in heritage’

Perhaps the most significant change is that the Heritage Fund is now very clearly focused on outcomes for people rather than for buildings. Every application must demonstrate how a grant from the Heritage Fund will engage more people than before. Your building may well be ‘at risk’ but its restoration alone is not enough to secure funding, however historically significant it may be.

Inclusion is now all-important. The Heritage Fund will have a particular focus on reaching people who are ‘typically under-represented in heritage or who face barriers to being involved’. To be successful, applicants must seek to include disabled people, young people, those from minority ethnic and LGBT+ communities and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Meeting specific outcomes remains at the core of lottery funding for heritage projects but the number of specified outcomes has reduced from 14 to 9. Skills development, learning and wellbeing are all vital as is the condition of heritage, its interpretation, its social and economic contribution to its local community and the resilience of the funded organisation. To win lottery funding your project must address at least one or more of these key objectives.

Priorities for Heritage funding

Whilst the Heritage Fund will continue to support the most diverse range of heritage projects across the UK, it has also declared two priority areas for funding: Landscapes & Nature and Community Heritage. It is therefore hugely important to consider whether your project can deliver clear benefits in these key areas.

A simplified system

Applying for HLF funding previously was both complicated and time-consuming. The new Heritage Fund offers a far more streamlined route to success with single-round applications for any grant up to £250,000 and an expression of interest stage introduced for any application higher than £250,000. Smaller grant applications (up to £100,000) will no longer have to go through a committee and therefore decisions should be reached within 8 weeks. By insisting that all higher applications must be preceded by an expression of interest, which will result in a decision within 20 days, the Fund is in effect only going to be inviting applications from projects which have a realistic chance of success.


All decisions, for applications up to £5 million, will now be taken at regional level. Up to £100,000, the decision will be made at executive level and for higher amounts, applications will be taken to a quarterly committee. There will be six decision making committees – one each for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and three in England (North, Midlands & East, London & South). This enables more awards to be made in line with national or regional priorities. A UK-wide committee will take decisions on applications over £5 million and these will only be accepted in two cycles 2020-21 and 22-23.

Should you apply?

There is of course far more detail for you to consider before you decide to approach the National Lottery Heritage Fund. If you want to find out whether this is the right step for you, we recommend that you visit the Heritage Fund’s website at or contact us for a personal discussion about your project. Over the years, our Directors have helped many clients secure lottery funding and you might find our expertise and understanding just what you need to make a powerful application.