The COVID-19 pandemic hit the arts and sports sectors hard. Organisations were required to close by law on 23 March 2020 when the UK entered the first national lockdown. Between July 2020 and March 2022, the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) provided around £2.6 billion of support for the arts and sports sectors to help them survive the pandemic. Of this, £474 million was in the form of repayable finance (loans). This is the first time that DCMS has managed a significant loan book and DCMS will manage the loans for around 20 years.  

We previously reported on the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) covering the period up to 19 February 2021.


This report will focus on the COVID-19 loans provided to both the arts and sports sectors. It will examine whether DCMS is delivering value for money through its management of the loan book. We will consider whether DCMS:

  • set up an appropriate and proportionate governance and oversight structure to deliver its objectives for the COVID-19 loan schemes
  • has been effective in managing the loan schemes so far
  • is well placed to meet the challenges of managing its loan book in the future and maximise financial returns

NAO Team

Director: Louise Bladen
Audit Manager: Chris Groom