Policy Roundup: March 2022


March has been rather bleak in many respects: the war in Ukraine, consistently high Covid cases and the rising cost of living and inflation across the UK have dominated the news. The cost of living crisis and rising inflation is a real concern for everyone, and we were somewhat disappointed by the Chancellor’s Spring Statement last week as it did little to introduce any meaningful help on and ignored pleas from tourism, hospitality and leisure businesses to keep VAT at 12.5% which would have been an important help during uncertain times.

In more positive news, we are heartened to hear of Historic Houses members’ efforts to support Ukraine – whether that be donating ticket revenue, hosting charity open garden events or signing up to host refugees. We also were pleased to see the return of English Tourism Week (and the glorious sunshine): 3 member houses welcomed their local MPs for visits, and many more engaged with the campaign across  social media. It has been great to be back out and about again, however, and the Tourism Alliance’s annual Parliamentary reception last week was a great chance to meet familiar and new faces within the sector. The announcement from the Ministry of Justice that the provision to allow outdoor civil weddings and partnerships will be extended permanently was also a win: we hope that many of our members will benefit from this new option and the additional freedoms it provides wedding venues.

The team at Warwick House continue to engage with MPs and civil servants at DCMS, DEFRA, DLUHC and HM Treasury in order to lobby on assorted issues, writing letters to ministers to outline our concerns and call for change. We have also been working on plans to pull together a roundtable event with relevant stakeholders, MPs and members to discuss the problems with EPCs and listed buildings, and propose some solutions to the issues faced by members in terms of navigating planning policy and environmental requirements. We keep in close contact with our colleagues across the heritage sector as the introduction of minimum EPC and energy efficiency standards is a topic that concerns us all greatly.

It is around this time too that many of our member houses will be opening for the 2022 season – and for the first time in 2 years, it doesn’t look (fingers crossed!) as though Covid restrictions will have an impact on opening houses and gardens to the public. We wish all our house members a prosperous and happy open season and look forward to whatever April brings us all.

Sarah and James, the Policy Team