Policy Round-Up: March 2020
Ordinarily, March would mark the start of the open season for Historic Houses members. Early in the month, we were gearing up for a series of MP and MSP visits to our member houses in celebration of English Tourism Week, Scottish Tourism Month and Welsh Tourism Week. Our calendars were full with preparations for our Business Conference at the Royal Academy, cross-country trips to member houses and sector meetings, consultation response deadlines, and the long-awaited Budget on 11 March.
Since then life has changed beyond recognition, and we have been entirely focused on supporting our member houses as we all adapt to the seismic changes that Covid-19 has brought. For heritage and tourism businesses, the immediate impact of Covid-19 has been devastating. A UK-wide lockdown has meant our member places have had no choice but to close their doors to visitors, meaning cashflow has entirely dried up and many are having to make difficult decisions to make ends meet. The impact on employment, rural prosperity, conservation and heritage protection is being felt in all corners of the UK.
The Historic Houses team has been busy working (from home) around the clock to keep all our members informed and reassured. We’ve been representing your key concerns to government on a daily basis; we’ve taken part in calls with the Culture Secretary, a regular heritage sector call with the Heritage Minister, and daily calls with stakeholders and officials. We’ve been sending daily email updates to our house members, responding to your email enquiries, and signposting to the Government’s package of business support measures as they are announced. Some of these measures could prove to be a lifeline for heritage sites during this period; if you’re a house member and you’ve not yet investigated the support available, do visit our Coronavirus advice page, which is regularly updated.
Whilst many of our ongoing projects have been put on the back burner, we have been brainstorming with our marketing team to find new (digital) ways to share everything our house members have to offer during this unprecedented crisis. The work of our association has never been more essential, and the support of our members has never been more important. Stay tuned to our social media channels and our mailing list to hear what we have in store, and how we’re tackling this crisis together.
As always, if you have any policy questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Emma and Lydia, the policy team