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Heritage Grants

Volume 447: debated on Monday 5 June 2006

This year’s joint allocation from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund for repair grants for listed places of worship is £25 million, while the VAT grants scheme reimburses about £12 million per year. By way of a statement, and to put these sums in context, in 2003 the cost of major repairs was £101 million.

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that that amounts to a radical cut in heritage grants from last year? Has he had the opportunity to make representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to apply for a reduced rate of VAT, or have the Church Commissioners considered doing what is done in Denmark by imposing 1 per cent. on income tax for all those who practise at the state church?

The first part of the hon. Lady’s question deals with a Government Department. It is for the Department that deals with heritage to say whether the English Heritage grant has been cut. However, I can tell her that English Heritage estimates that the cost of repairs to listed places of worship, 80 per cent. of which are Anglican churches, will be £925 million over five years, or £185 million a year. We are raising the question of funding for church repairs with the Chancellor, but I would not be so bold as to invite him to add 1 per cent., or 1p, to income tax.