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Financial support for museums during COVID-19


This guide contains sources of financial support for museums currently dealing with the effects of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus outbreak.

Gov.UK has created a Business Support Checker tool to help organisations understand the business support available to them. This tracker is a good first point for museums trying to ascertain what government support they can access.   

Business Support Programme

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Go to the Business Support Checker


MGS funding streams

Since March 2020 MGS has been monitoring the sector’s financial needs arising as a result of Coronavirus. During 2020/21 we suspended all of our regular grant funds and ran five special funds:

In April 2020, funding from the Scottish Government established the Urgent Response Fund, to support museums and galleries with core costs critically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Capital funding was also distributed through the Digital Resilience fund to support the purchase of equipment necessary to enable work from home and provision of digital access to museum collections and activity.

In June 2020, the COVID-19 Adaptation Fund opened to support museums with the costs of opening back up in compliance with government guidelines around COVID-19. This fund continued over the next 12 months with the last round closing in June 2021.

The COVID-19 Museum Development Fund had two rounds of funding closing in November 2020 and February 2021 supporting Local Authority museums, museums managed by ALEOs and University museums to deliver projects to build resilience and address challenges brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Finally, through the two rounds of the Recovery and Resilience Fund we distributed funding to independent museums across Scotland put at risk by the pandemic, supporting them with operating costs and activity to help them achieve greater financial sustainability. The first round supported museums until 31 March 2021, and with additional funding from the Scottish Government the second round continued our support through to 30 June 2021.

Funding streams for 2021-22

During 2021-22 we will be running funding streams to support museums to deal with the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and to deliver projects that will build their resilience and enable communities to engage with their collections. To remain flexible to address the needs as they emerge, we will be launching these funds in phases throughout the year. For an overview of the funding currently available visit:

Funding Overview

Flexibility around project timescales and how funding is used 

Some projects which we are supporting through our funding streams will need to be paused or changes might be required. We are happy to discuss these issues with you on an ongoing basis as the situation evolves. Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like to discuss any changes to your funded projects. 

Grant payments 

We will endeavour to ensure that grant claims are processed as normal. Where our grant contributes to someone’s salary we will continue to accept claims for those costs, even if the post holder is unable to deliver the project as planned due to the impact of Coronavirus. 

For organisations currently delivering Small or Museum Development Fund projects, please remember that you can submit interim claims once you have reached a claim level of £2,000 after your award percentage has been applied, and you may wish to consider this to help improve your cashflow at this time. 

Scotland specific support

Scottish Government rates relief

The Scottish Government has introduced extra rates reliefs (discounts) and one-off grants for some businesses. Museums and galleries are included among the businesses eligible to apply.


The Find Business Support in Scotland website contains advice, funding and training opportunities for Scottish businesses affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic. 

Browse the support on their website

SCVO Independent Funders

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) have created a list of independent funding organisations who are offering financial support during the COVID-19 outbreak. Museums may be eligible for many of these funds. 

View independent funders on SCVO website

UK wide financial support

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme covers employer National Insurance and pension contributions of furloughed workers. It is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. 

The UK Government has announced that the scheme will be extended to September 2021. Changes to how the scheme is operated happened in July 2021 including a reduction in the amount of salary grant you can claim for furloughed staff. 

UK Government Recovery Loans Scheme

The UK Government has introduced the Recovery Loans Scheme to help businesses across the UK access finances as they seek to grow and recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme will enable businesses of any size to access loans and other kinds of finance once the existing COVID-19 loan schemes close. Once received, the finance can be used for any legitimate business purpose, including growth and investment. T

he government will guarantee 80% of the finance to the lender to ensure they have the confidence to lend to businesses. The scheme launches on 6 April and is open until 31 December. Loans will be available through a network of accredited lenders, whose names will be made public in due course.

Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers up to two weeks Statutory Sick Pay paid to current or former employees who were sick, self isolating or shielding due to COVID-19.  

Temporary VAT reduction for some attractions

The UK Government is allowing VAT-registered businesses to apply a temporary reduced rate of VAT of 5% to certain products and services. Museums are eligible for this reduction if they are VAT registered.

The temporary reduced rate of 5% has been extended to apply to transactions between 15 July 2020 and 30 September 2021. From 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022, a VAT rate of 12.5% will apply.

National Lottery Grants for Heritage

On the 25th November, the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) resumed accepting applications for its Grants for Heritage programme. Offering grants from £3,000-£10,000 and £10,000-£100,000, looking for projects with emphasis on organisational resilience and inclusion. Beginning 8th February 2021 they will also resume accepting applications from £100,000-£250,000 and £250,000-£5M, expecting projects to demonstrate that they're building long-term environmental sustainability and inclusion into their plans. The funding will support heritage organisations to adapt to changed circumstances, to closely examine their existing business models and to develop new, creative, and more resilient ways of operating.



Museum fundraising guidance

Museums and heritage organisations have felt the impact of closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Many face significant financial challenges as they try to model what the future holds for both their teams and the collections they care for. National Museums Scotland have put together a fundraising guidance on how to effectively fundraise, considering the limitations of lockdown and closures.

Related guide

Operational advice during COVID-19

This page contains information for museums currently dealing with the effects of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus outbreak. Including signposting to financial support, business continuity advice, and best practice to follow.

Find out more