About the Covid-19 Archives Fund

The National Archives has been allocated £500,000 from HM Treasury as a risk management fund for the archives sector on the basis that archive-holding businesses, charities, local authorities and arts organisations are facing increased risk of failure and dissolution or have a greatly reduced capacity as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The objective of the fund

The objective of the Covid-19 Archives Fund is to provide support for short-notice interventions to secure vulnerable analogue and digital records from premature destruction or prolonged neglect. It is open to most archive-holding bodies and services.

The fund will help to offset the practical costs of assessing and physically re-locating threatened archives or data. The costs of rescue will vary significantly depending on the scale and complexity of the collections concerned. The purpose of the fund is to supplement existing sources of assistance and not to be in competition with them. The fund will therefore co-ordinate with other funding bodies to avoid duplication of effort.

Definition of records at risk

We define ‘records at risk’ as collections within the United Kingdom regardless of format whose future preservation, accessibility and security is uncertain. This could be where the record creator or current custodian (archive service or otherwise) does not have the capacity to sustainably preserve the records in the future. This term also includes records held outside a recognised archive institution.

For more information about applicant and collection eligibility, please visit our ‘Eligibility and application guidance’ webpage.

Activities that the grants can fund

The grants may fund a variety of activities depending on the circumstances of each case. This might involve securing additional expertise, resources and time to enable co-operation with other parties to:

  • appraise the level of risk that the records face, their research significance and the effectiveness of the proposed intervention
  • investigate collections to gather sufficient information to make appropriate decisions about their future preservation and access
  • steer, if needed, the collections to an appropriate archive service

Example interventions include:

  • conservation and researching significance prior to major decisions being made about the acquisition or disposal of a major collection
  • transporting and temporarily storing a collection facing immediate risk, in the case of an archive service being willing to receive it but unable to do so immediately
  • the development of an options appraisal exercise, particularly relevant in the case of charity or community archives who seek direct intervention for their collections
  • covering the cost of conservation materials and freelance consultant fees

Applying to the fund

Applications can be made for a maximum of £50,000, but funds are limited and must be distributed before the end of the 2020/21 financial year. The deadline for applications is therefore 15 January 2021.

Applications are made through an online application form, which can be found on our ‘Eligibility and application guidance’ webpage.

Management of the fund

The administration of the fund by The National Archives is supported by a small assessment panel drawn from the archives, cultural and heritage sectors. This panel represents a variety of networks that can share intelligence and contacts and quickly assess the merits of an application for assistance. The National Archives will maintain an enquiry inbox on behalf of the fund, with a dedicated member of staff to manage eligibility enquiries and applications.

More information

For more information about the Covid-19 Archives Fund, please contact Philip Gale at asd@nationalarchives.gov.uk.