Policy Round Up: October 2022

News from our houses Politics

Another busy month in politics: almost as soon as we finished writing letters of congratulations and arranging initial meetings with new ministers and digested September’s mini-budget, Liz Truss’ government began to implode. The election of Rishi Sunak as Leader of the Conservative Party (and therefore our new Prime Minister) seems to have brought some respite from the chaos engulfing Westminster, but how long this will last is unclear.

The Energy Bill Relief scheme, for both domestic and non-domestic customers, has dominated much of our work this month. The news that off grid domestic customers would receive an additional £100 alternative fuel payment is welcome, but the fact that the announcement has been largely buried and government is yet to reveal how these 4 million households will receive the money remains a cause for concern. Many thanks to those who took the time to respond to the BEIS survey on non-domestic energy bill support. We await the outcome of the reviews in due course, and will of course continue to press for historic house businesses to receive additional support throughout 2023.

The results of our joint survey with the CLA, conducted over the summer, are also back in: they show that 48% of our members view the listed building consent system as working ‘poorly’ or ‘very poorly’, 75% view it as a barrier to them carrying out decarbonization / energy efficiency works, and an additional 75% show overwhelming support for streamlining listed building consent processes for heritage. We look forward to sharing the full results in more depth in due course, and hope that they will add to the arguments for reform that we continue to make on our members’ behalf.

October marked our first post-pandemic Education Seminar, held at Bell House in Dulwich. It was great to see so many heritage education specialists in one room together, and to hear from an inspiring and varied range of speakers on everything from volunteer management to academic partnerships with universities, as well as sessions on funding bids and what schools look for in visits. Slides from the speakers can be found here. The Learning Advisory Panel are available for visits and advice for any house members who would like to take advantage of their expertise, and we are looking forward to hosting a range of regional meetings and webinars in 2023.

We continue to work across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as in England. Catch ups with Northern Ireland’s governmental heritage team, workshops with the Scottish Government’s Heat in Buildings team and ongoing dialogue in Wales surrounding possible exemptions being made available amongst the new furnished holiday lets legislation have been productive.

Our 50th Anniversary Survey has now closed, and we are extremely grateful to those who took the time to fill it in. The preliminary results will be ready ahead of our AGM on 15 November. The 2022 Annual Survey is now open for responses: those who participate in the Member Access Scheme will need to complete this by the end of January 2023 in order to claim Member Credit. The results of these two surveys will help inform our lobbying efforts moving forwards and help us present the economic, social, cultural and environmental contributions of Historic Houses members to policy makers and politicians.

We look forward to meetings and visits with members of opposition parties in the coming weeks, and to seeing many Historic Houses members at the national AGM in a couple of weeks!

Sarah & Emma, the Policy team