Heritage is our country’s USP. Our world-leading historic houses, castles and gardens are a unique combination of people and places, culture and innovation.
The 1,500 independent historic houses and gardens we represent are the backbone of the UK’s tourism industry, welcoming 26 million visits each year, supporting 33,700 FTE jobs and generating £1 billion for the UK economy, two-thirds of which is spent in nearby towns and villages.
These historic places engage hundreds of thousands of education visitors, are home to dynamic rural SMEs, and are hubs for local charities and community groups. There can be few better examples of where culture, creativity, community and commerce unite to create vibrant places in which people want to live, work, study and holiday.
The majority of historic houses open to the public in the UK are maintained by independent owners, rather than government or charities. This means they can’t benefit from Gift Aid, access to grants, VAT relief or the other advantages of charitable status.
We want independent historic houses to be able to do more – encouraging tourists to travel beyond London and the South East, ensuring heritage is accessible to everyone, supporting health and wellbeing, and driving regional economic growth. But these houses face a growing conservation challenge – a backlog of maintenance and repairs totaling £1.38 billion – which threatens the sustainability of the sector and risks the loss of nationally important heritage. We are urging the Government to support our proposals for fiscal relief on Heritage Maintenance Funds at independent historic houses open to the public. This small policy change would enable independent houses to fund urgent repairs from their own resources, ensuring they can continue to play a leading role spreading the economic and social benefits of tourism and culture.
Our policy and public affairs team calls on government and politicians to give our country’s unique historic houses and gardens the tools they need to support people, places and prosperity. Explore our key stats and research below, and download our 2019 Policy Card for details of our key campaigns.