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The UK’s largest funder of heritage sets out its priorities for the first part of its new 10-year strategy.


Alan Murray-Rust / Lottery Funded / CC BY-SA 2.0

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) has shared details of the budget, priorities and changes to its funding programme for the first three years of its new 10-year strategy.

The strategy, Heritage 2033, was released earlier this year and committed to investing an anticipated £3.6bn raised through National Lottery good causes funding over the next decade.

From 2023-2026, NLHF plans to invest more than £1bn, consisting of £870m via National Lottery Grants for Heritage and £140m in strategic initiatives.


In the current 2023/24 financial year it will distribute £345m through National Lottery investment, as well as £43m in government funding.

This year will see NLHF wind down grant applications under its current Strategic Funding Framework (SFF), ahead of opening its first grant applications under Heritage 2033, alongside new guidance and application forms, in January 2024.

The transition means there will be a short time period where grants for up to £250,000 will be closed.

Grant applications under Heritage 2033 will offer a simpler application process, which NLHF says will be more proportionate to the amount of money an applicant is requesting.

Executive Director of Business Delivery at the Heritage Fund, Anne Jenkins, said feedback from stakeholders had suggested application processes could be simpler.

“We will be responding by streamlining our applications for grants from £10,000 to £10m and by continuing to support organisations to develop the skills and capacity to ensure a sound long-term future. Our teams will be on hand to support applicants throughout this transition year and beyond.”

Funding decisions will consider NLHF’s four investment principles, first unveiled in the release of Heritage 2033, which it said at the time would underpin its future decision making. 

Place-based support

NLHF has also shared details on the roll-out of new strategic initiatives in its new strategy, which includes a commitment to investing £200m in place-based investments over the duration of Heritage 2033.

This autumn, NLHF says it will announce the first nine of 20 locations across the UK where it will “invest to transform heritage, revitalise economies and boost local pride” through its place initiative.

Details on NLHF’s partnership that will help deliver urban nature recovery through its Nature Towns and Cities initiative is expected to follow by the end of the year.

The funder has also committed to identifying gaps in support to the heritage sector through a Heritage in Need scheme and will begin by working with strategic partners to identify the initial focus for support.

Chief Executive Eilish McGuiness said the three-year delivery plan “sets out the key milestones for delivering our ambitious new strategy and the transition to operating under our four new investment principles. 

“Heritage 2033 was developed with your input, and we're looking forward to collaborating with you to deliver our shared vision for heritage over the years ahead,” she said.

NLHF says its three-year strategy was designed to be flexible and will be updated annually. It will be followed by subsequent delivery plans to support the duration of Heritage 2033.