Goodbye HLF… and Hello National Lottery Heritage Fund!

A quick guide to what you need to know about the changes to the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2019.

 January 30th marks an important day for the sector as we say goodbye to the funder formerly known as the Heritage Lottery Fund and hello to the newly rebranded National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Heritage Lottery Fund has been the largest dedicated funder of heritage in the UK since 1994, distributing £7.9bn to over 43,000 heritage projects across the length and breadth of the country. 2019 is the fund’s 25th anniversary, and to mark the occasion they have rebranded and relaunched with a new name, a new website, a new look and, most importantly, a new 5 year Strategic Funding Framework which outlines their funding priorities across 2019 – 2024.


Besides the struggle of having to get used to a brand new acronym (it might take us a while to stop staying HLF), what has changed? And what do these changes mean for the sector and for organisations looking for funding?

We have identified some of the key themes from the new Strategic Funding Framework which outlines how the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) will distribute National Lottery good causes money to the heritage sector going forward, as well as other changes which will be important for you to be aware of as the National Lottery Heritage Fund roles out their new programme in 2019.


The National Lottery Heritage Fund today and in the future

The first thing to know is that despite the differences in its new appearance, the National Lottery Heritage Fund remain fully committed to continuing UK-wide grant making and advocating for the impact and benefits to society that heritage achieves, building on the quarter century legacy and learning of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

They will continue to achieve positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future, but over the next five years will look to move from being the largest dedicated grant-funder of the United Kingdom’s heritage to the largest dedicated investor, taking a more active approach towards strategically inspiring, leading and resourcing the United Kingdom’s heritage. Despite the recent challenge of declining levels of National Lottery income, which is set against a backdrop of a decade of reduced public spending, they expect to invest around £1.2 billion in the UK’s heritage over the next five years.


The programmes have been simplified.

Based on feedback from a wide programme of consultation conducted across 2018, one of the largest changes to be aware of is the simplification of the grant portfolio. The vast majority of funding will now be delivered through one programme - National Lottery Grants for Heritage, an open programme for any type of heritage project - from £3,000 to £5 million. This will be split into three streams based on grant amount, £3,000 - £10,000; £10,000 - £250,000; and £250,000 - £5 million. Major projects over £5 million will be funded through two time limited competitions taking place in 2020–21 and 2022–23.

The grant processes will also be streamlined with a single-round process for all grants up to £250,000 and an expression of interest stage introduced for projects above £250,000. The application forms, processes and requirements will be shorter, simpler and quicker for smaller grants. The number of outcomes has been reduced and a new one has been added (“People will have greater wellbeing”). Many of the application requirements remain the same, though there are a number of changes to the form to look out for, with new application guidance published for each.

In addition there will be a small number of time-limited heritage campaigns and partnership initiatives, regionally and at a UK wide level. The initial UK wide campaigns are expected to cover: Capacity building and organisational resilience; Digital capabilities; Wellbeing; Dynamic Collections in museums; and Place. Other campaigns which respond to identified need will be announced periodically.


Types of heritage funded

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will continue to fund the full breadth of heritage across the whole of the UK. While there will be no new rounds of targeted programmes (i.e. Parks for People or Townscape Heritage) grants will still be awarded to high-quality proposals of all kinds, from all parts of the heritage sector including projects which would have formerly come under these banners.

There are two priority areas of focus which have been identified: landscapes and nature and community heritage. These can cross cut all types of applications (e.g. by ensuring that a project will have positive benefits for nature or will enable a community to better connect with their heritage more fully).


Greater levels of devolution

Under the new Strategic Funding Framework, business delivery, governance and investment decisions will be even more devolved. NLHF will now delegate all funding decisions up to £5 million to committees in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and to the three newly created geographical areas in England – North; Midlands and East; and London and South. This will allow for greater account to be taken of different policy priorities in the four countries.

The UK Board will continue to decide on UK-wide strategic interventions and on the major awards over £5 million.



The NLHF are raising their ambition to achieve greater inclusion. Every project will now be expected to achieve the new inclusion outcome: “A wider range of people will be involved in heritage” and there will be a renewed focus on ways in which projects can reach those millions of people in the UK who are typically under-represented in heritage or who face barriers to being involved. Expectations of organisations receiving larger grants will be high and organisations applying for the first time will be a priority for help.


Greater recognition of where the money has come from

The rebranding as the National Lottery Heritage Fund is, in part, to make the link with the National Lottery even more explicit. Expect a greater level of importance given to the recognition of the role of Lottery Players going forward in line with the ambition for inclusivity.


Innovation and alternatives to grant funding

Across the next five years the NHLF will seek to make Lottery Players money work harder by investing a proportion of their income in social investments e.g. loans and impact funds or other financial interventions, taking advantage of repayable finance schemes to make the Lottery returns go further, recycling investment. There will be an increased focus on encouraging innovation and collaboration as well as building capacity, skills and resilience across the sector.



The key changes are about simplification, devolution & innovation, making Lottery investment go further in the face of a challenging financial background. These are all very welcome messages, which should embed a sense of confidence in the sector.

Jura Consultants have been successfully aiding clients achieve funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the last 22 years, securing a total of £237million worth of funding across 87 successful projects. We look forward to working with the National Lottery Heritage Fund and with clients applying to the fund in the coming years.