The last year saw another significant increase in restricted funding awarded to the AHF. 2020/21 was the highest spend year of the Transforming Places through Heritage programme but we also received substantial emergency support funding, including £2 million Culture Recovery Fund funding from DCMS via Historic England, and secured additional funding from Cadw, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and the Department for Communities Northern Ireland (DfC). Our Wales and Northern Ireland grant programmes were able to expand and there were more funds to lend in these countries, thanks to a significant increase in lending funds from Cadw and DfC. Extra funding from HES enabled us to offer more grants in Scotland and Historic England continued to fund our Heritage Assets into Community Ownership programme.
As part of the £2m award from the DCMS, AHF’s endowment fund received £1 million investment; this will support any losses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and will help to protect the AHF’s capacity to lend as we continue to deal with the impact COVID-19 has had on our borrowers and their sustainability. A further £1 million of Culture Recovery Fund funding was received and awarded as business support grants to a number of social enterprise and charity-led heritage projects.
Grant-making expenditure increased by £3.2 million, driven by both the scale and scope of the Transforming Places through Heritage programme’s activities, particularly the capital and revenue grants for the Heritage Development Trust pilots, and by exceptional COVID-19 recovery-related in-year funding. Grant offers totalled £6.8 million for the year, an unprecedented accomplishment for the AHF.
Demand for HIF loans remained strong throughout 2020/21 and, in addition to £2.3 million disbursed during the year, there were further HIF loan commitments of £3.6 million as at the year end. The HIF fund is expected to be fully committed by autumn 2021 and so securing new investment is a priority for the coming year.
Income from our Rathbone Greenbank managed investment funds boosted unrestricted income, although less than the previous year; but the value of our investments rose significantly, more than recouping the losses that were sustained in 2019/20 due to the impact of COVID-19.
So that the AHF remains a sustainable organisation, we continue to focus on our levels of unrestricted income (which supports a number of members of staff and organisational overheads) while prudently managing costs. Fundraising planned for 2020/21 had to be delayed due to COVID-19 but this will be returned to during 2021/22.