How Edinburgh helps fund the upkeep of Scotland’s historic buildings – Donald Anderson

During the Covid crisis, the Scottish Government had to step in and fund many things, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) among them. Funding rose to £61 million.
Income from Edinburgh Castle helps boost Historic Environment Scotland's funds (Picture: Ian Johnston)Income from Edinburgh Castle helps boost Historic Environment Scotland's funds (Picture: Ian Johnston)
Income from Edinburgh Castle helps boost Historic Environment Scotland's funds (Picture: Ian Johnston)

The government recently announced that this will fall to £48 million by 2026/7, and fears were expressed that Scotland’s heritage would suffer as a result.

However, a quick look at the figures shows that government funding for HES was actually £10 million less pre-Covid at £38million. Why the difference? Well, it turns out that Edinburgh funds HES more than the Scottish Government. Or to be strictly accurate, income from Edinburgh Castle funds HES.

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Edinburgh Castle contributes over £50 million from visitors and events to the HES budget. It was not always thus, and the castle was once closed for much of Edinburgh’s famous Hogmanay celebrations, and a campaign had to be mounted to get it to open for visitors from around the world.

The castle is also home to the wonderful Military Tattoo, which raises a small fortune for HES and array of other charities. I shall be taking my seat at the forthcoming concerts by Deacon Blue and Texas at the castle and making my own contribution to heritage in Scotland.

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I well remember starting a campaign to save the castle concerts when promoter Barry Wright advised me that the then Historic Scotland was intent on cancelling them. Thankfully, common sense prevailed, and music lovers continue to be able to enjoy what is one of the finest venues on the planet while, at the same time, doing their bit to preserve and improve historic buildings across Scotland.

The castle is just one of the ways that the strength of Edinburgh’s tourism industry helps spread the benefits of prosperity and investment across Scotland. Edinburgh is named by two thirds of overseas visitors as their key destination when they visit Scotland and Edinburgh hosts nearly half of all the overnight stays that take place in Scotland.

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People sometimes argue with the figures, but as Edinburgh Castle shows, the city makes a huge contribution to Scotland’s public finances and spending. Cause for celebration surely.

Donald Anderson is the director of Playfair Scotland and a former leader of the City of Edinburgh Council

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