The Programme

The Public Records Act requires certain public bodies to transfer records of historical value for permanent preservation to local archive services appointed as ‘places of deposit’. The point of transfer was by the time the records reached 30 years old.

Changes in legislation mean that, since 1 January 2015, specified local public sector organisations (magistrates’ courts, prisons, coroners’ courts, NHS bodies and some arms-length bodies including the Environment Agency) must now transfer records selected for permanent preservation to a place of deposit at 20 years after their creation, rather than the previous 30 years. There is a 10 year transition period so, for 2016, selected records up to and including 1988 (records 28 years old or older) must be transferred. This will reduce by a further year during each year of the transition period until 2024, when records of 2004 will have been received.

Our role

The aim of our programme is to ensure public record bodies maintain compliance with the Public Records Act, so that by 2024 they are transferring their records for permanent preservation to places of deposit when they reach 20 years old, while ensuring selection and transfer is made in accordance with best practice and guidance.

The 20 year rule team has been:

  • issuing guidance and training to public record bodies to emphasise their responsibilities – find out about our work here
  • teaching organisations about transfer processes and their responsibilities under the Public Records Act through a new online training course
  • supporting places of deposit with guidance to support transition – find out more here
  • allocating ‘New Burdens’ funding to local authority places of deposit and coroners’ courts, alleviating pressure of the extra work involved in transition
  • monitoring public records transfers to places of deposit through the annual Accessions to Repositories survey for UK archives and the Record Transfer survey for public record bodies transferring to places of deposit

New Burdens funding

£6.6 million of ‘New Burdens’ funding has been made available from central government to cover the increased activity for local authority places of deposit during the ten-year transition period, with smaller sums available to assist coroners. Distributed via The National Archives, £660,000 will be made available for each year of transition – the first payments were made in 2016 in relation to public records accessioned during 2015. Payments are allocated in proportion to their share of the total volume of accessioned public records covered in Schedule 1.

To claim for funding, places of deposit must report their eligible public records accessioned during the past calendar year via their Accessions return to The National Archives. See our guide on New Burdens funding for more information.

Details for payments made to places of deposit can be downloaded below. The data shows the public records accessioned by places of deposit which made them eligible for New Burdens funding, and the total payments for each eligible place of deposit during each year of the transition period. Eligibility criteria for public record collections and New Burdens payments are outlined in our New Burdens guide.

New Burdens funding to places of deposit and eligible collections (XLS, 0.12MB)

Find out more

20 year rule FAQs (PDF, 0.31MB)

Impact assessment: Constitutional Reform and Governance Act (2010): 20 year rule: records of local interest (PDF, 0.13MB)

A brief guide to transferring Records of Local Interest (PDF, 0.31MB)

Find out more about the 20-year rule and how it is implemented across government departments on the following pages:

20-year rule

20-year rule: Record transfer report for local bodies transferring to places of deposit

20-year rule: Record transfer report for central government departments