Statement regarding intermediate cuts to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme
7 October 2010
The Archbishops’ Council’s Cathedrals and Church Buildings Division has issued a statement following the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s announcement today regarding intermediate cuts to the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme (LPWGS).
Under LPWGS, a grant scheme introduced in April 2001 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer and due to continue until March 2011, up to 100% of the VAT charged on eligible works is returned directly to the PCCs which have undertaken the repairs. Currently around £12million (or £1million a month) is refunded each year in England alone – with approximately 93% going to Church of England churches and cathedrals.
Intermediate cuts announced today by the DCMS state that, from 4th January to 31st March 2011, it will no longer be possible to recover VAT on works to organs, bells, clocks and pews nor on professional fees for any works undertaken in that time period.
Prepared by the Chair of the Church Buildings Council, Anne Sloman, the statement reads:
“Given a choice between a reduction in the grant across the board for all repair work on churches, or maintaining the full grant for most works, we reluctantly went for the exclusion of some items during this period. However, we do particularly regret that we will no longer be able to recover VAT on professional fees because of the value the church places on the contribution that architects and other professional advisers make to the preservation and development of church buildings. The Church continues to press the case for the retention of the scheme in full beyond March 2011.
“If the LPWGS is not renewed beyond March 2011, the VAT that is currently recoverable on repairs will become a second extra cost, and the extra money that congregations will have to find to spend on the roof, and other repairs, needed to get buildings into a good state, will no longer be a available for those works needed to re-order the church for community use.
“In many rural areas, churches are the only public buildings left, providing space for post offices, community shops, meeting rooms, play groups and so on. In inner cities, where the vicar is often the only professional still resident in deprived areas, they can provide drop-in centres, and a safe neutral space for a whole range of social service and counselling activities.
“The Government has indicated that it wishes to encourage the Church of England to continue making its 16,200 buildings available to serve the wider community beyond the worshipping congregation.
“Therefore the Church continues to press the case for the retention of the scheme in full beyond March 2011.”