A second round of Culture Recovery Funding (CRF) has been announced. This funding will be a mix of grants and repayable finance and, as with the CRF rounds over the summer, will have a number of strands.

Most relevant to churches is the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, administered jointly by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF). This stream has £36m available, in grants from £10k to £3m. It is predominantly revenue funding to support re-opening, but there are elements of capital that can be included – such as minor repairs and maintenance needed to make the building safe for visitors. The focus of CRF2 is very much on re-opening and welcoming people back – whether visitors, communities or commercial partners.

You can read the advice for applicants here.

Listed places of worship are specifically mentioned in the guidance:

If you look after a listed place of worship you … can apply for funding towards the costs necessary to transition towards full reopening of your listed building to the general public and engage the wider community with your heritage. You cannot apply for funding to undertake work that would be categorised as promotion of your faith or capital projects, such as major repairs.

Applications for CRF2 open on January 7 and close on January 26, and must be made via the online form on the Heritage Fund website. Any grants awarded will have to be spent by the end of June 2021.

Previous applicants to the CRF for Heritage – both successful and unsuccessful – can also apply to this new fund but should check specific threshold limits to ensure they don’t accidentally exceed the allowable limits.

Churches, in particular smaller parishes, struggled to put together successful applications to the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, for various reasons. To try and give a greater chance of success this time, notes on the application criteria and form will be provided before applications formally open in January. These will focus on eligible costs, how to approach some of the stock questions that all applicants have to complete, and how churches might demonstrate their alignment to the specific requirements of this scheme.

Neither the NLHF or HE is able to offer specific help to individual applicants but there will be some webinars in the new year, which may help answer any questions that arise.