Saffery to report on importance of historic houses to UK economy and society

2 Aug 2022

rural landscape

Saffery, in partnership with Nordicity, has been commissioned by Historic Houses to produce a strategic research report determining the economic and social contribution made by historic houses and gardens in the UK that form its membership.

Historic Houses is a cooperative association of independent historic houses, castles, and gardens. Established almost 50 years ago, it represents, advises, and supports the owners of more than a thousand important places, with the support of nearly 70,000 members who visit and enjoy historic properties.

The organisation also carries out important lobbying, advisory and marketing work on behalf of property owners and runs an access scheme for the general public.

The new report, which will be published in spring 2023, ahead of the association’s 50th anniversary, will seek to analyse the contribution that historic houses make to the UK economy, looking at direct economic impacts, such as direct employment, supply chain/indirect impacts and tourism impacts.

A social and environmental impact analysis will look at how historic houses and gardens offer educational opportunities, provide a focus for local communities, and contribute to our understanding of the built historic environment.

The final part of the report will consider the tax regime as it applies to properties such as these. Given the rising costs of maintenance and repair, it will also look at future policy scenarios and how these might affect the sector, offering practical proposals for updating current policy.

Saffery and Nordicity have a strong track record in demonstrating the value that specific sectors bring to the UK in terms of investment, employment and less tangible indirect benefits. Last year, their report for Cardiff-based production company Bad Wolf looked at the impact of the company’s activity in Wales between 2015 and 2020. It found that 2,243 full time equivalent roles were created, £114 million in GVA was generated for the Welsh economy and over £121 million was spent on crew and suppliers in Wales. For every £1 million of Welsh government money invested in Bad Wolf productions in Wales, the Welsh economy benefitted almost tenfold.

Most recently, their report for ScreenSkills looked at the investment in skills required in the UK to support growth of the film and high-end TV production sector. They found that between 15,130 and 20,770 additional crew members would be needed to meet future demand and, by 2025, annual investment in training of over £95 million will be required.

Stephen Bristow, partner at Saffery, who will co-author the report, commented:

“I am delighted to have been appointed to undertake this research to properly understand and quantify the economic and social contribution made by historic houses and gardens to the UK economy. Robust independent evidence is crucial to ensure that everyone understands the contribution made by privately owned properties across the UK.”

Ben Cowell, OBE, Director General of Historic Houses, commented:

“The sector desperately needs this research to properly quantify the importance of historic properties to the UK economy. Some of the key elements in the tax regime for historic house properties arose from the Gowers Report in 1950 and were enacted in the mid-1970s. Over the last twenty years, however, fiscal conditions have become a degree more challenging for properties such as these, while the Covid pandemic also had a significant impact. Government policy must support the owners and custodians of these very special places in their endeavours to preserve them for all to enjoy, now and in the future.”

David Chismon, Head of the Land & Rural Group at Saffery, commented:

“The owners of historic properties often have to grapple with some fairly complex tax issues. The ever-increasing cost of maintenance, repair and upkeep can be a considerable drain on resources, even for those properties run as successful, diversified businesses. Given the current economic challenges, it’s right for us to be having a debate about how privately owned houses and gardens contribute to the rural and the UK economy.”