Policy round-up: December 2019
As the decade draws to a close, the outcome of the general election has offered some certainty in terms of planning our public affairs work for the year ahead. We’ve spent the last couple of days following the election writing letters to welcome new and returning Ministers and MPs – including Treasury Ministers and both the Culture Secretary, Nicky Morgan and the Heritage Minister, Helen Whately – as well as thanking departing politicians who were advocates for our cause during the last Parliament.
The start of the new year will see us focusing on meeting key politicians to reiterate our case for the reform of Heritage Maintenance Funds ahead of the first Budget of 2020 (expected in February), as well as continuing our work raising awareness of the massive economic and social contribution of independently owned historic houses and gardens. If you would like to support our lobbying work by writing to your local MP to highlight the importance of heritage and tourism to people, places and prosperity across the UK, you can find a template letter and a copy of our Policy Card on our house members’ website.
With the environment and climate change at the forefront of political debate, we are continuing to step up our focus on sustainability issues in heritage and tourism. We’ve been working closely with sector colleagues on the challenges posed by the latest Energy Performance Certificate standards, and will be making the case for the environmental benefits of working with historic buildings when the full consultation is published in January. Alongside this initiative we continue to work closely with colleagues across the sector to advocate for wider reform of Listed Building Consent, as well as reducing VAT on repair and maintenance.
The first quarter of 2020 promises to be busy – with just six weeks to go until the UK is set to leave the EU, a Budget in February and a Conservative Commons majority planning to refresh the domestic policy agenda. The Queen’s Speech on 19 December highlighted new Environment and Agriculture Bills, as well as changes to business rates and reform of the private rental sector – all of which will provide new opportunities to lobby on behalf of our house members, with a flurry of fresh consultations expected in the New Year.
This is our final policy round-up of the year before the holiday season gets into full swing; a very Merry Christmas to all our house members, visitor members and sector colleagues, and we look forward to engaging with all the opportunities and challenges the new decade will bring!
Emma and Lydia, the policy team