The Built Heritage Investment Scheme (BHIS) was introduced in 2016 under the Government’s Stimulus Capital Programme with a fund of €2million. The scheme was intended to assist with the repair and conservation of protected structures, “to leverage private capital for investment in a significant number of labour-intensive, small-scale conservation projects”, and to “support the employment of skilled and experienced conservation professionals, craftspeople and tradespersons in the repair of the historic built environment”. In 2017 funding for the BHIS was increased to €3.5 million with a further €1.5million for the Structures at Risk Fund. This helped to reverse the disproportionate reduction in public funding that had been experienced by the sector during the economic crisis that started in 2008. However, in spite of improved economic circumstances and a demonstrable benefit in investing in the historic built environment, funding for the Built Heritage Investment Scheme was inexplicably reduced by over one-third in 2018 to €2 million.
The Irish Georgian Society urges the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to reinstate funding for the Built Heritage Investment Scheme to the 2017 level at the very least, and to undertake a review of the scheme so as to ensure consistency in the allocation of funding to local authorities and the awarding of grants for conservation projects.