Heritage organisations predict worsening budget pressures in 2024

Opening hours and education programmes are first to be cut as pressures such as energy bills force difficult choices

The majority of the heritage sector expects budgets to worsen in 2024, according to a new survey.

A total of 162 organisations answered a survey from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Pulse survey at the start of this year.

Asked if they are currently experiencing costs or budget pressures, 78% said they were.

Of those experiencing budget pressures, 62% believe the situation will only get worse in the next year.

Just over half (51%) of those surveyed said budget pressure ‘will get a little worse’, while 12% of those believe it ‘will get a lot worse’. Just 8% agree that their situation will ease.

Over half of respondents facing budgetary pressures named energy and utility costs among the financial pressures. Also named were supplier prices (52%), maintenance and repairs (43%), insurance (38%) and payroll increases (36%). 29% said they are impacted by the National Living Wage increases.

An unnamed respondent said: “Without a significant rise in visitor numbers and attendees at our events, we will not be able to raise our core funding required just to cover day-to-day costs, never mind the heating repairs.”

Just under a third of respondents have already made cuts to existing programmes, services, access or facilities, with half of all organisations with a turnover of over 1 million doing so.

An even higher proportion of all respondents (57%) have begun decreasing their plans for the future.

The areas in which organisations have already made the most significant cuts are opening hours and public access, education and community programmes, and building or technical maintenance.