Collections in churches totalled £56 million in 2006, the last year for which figures are available. However, that is only a small part of the regular committed giving of members of the Church of England, most of which is by standing order. Total income from donors was nearly £537 million, including £70 million of reclaimed gift aid.
I congratulate the Church Commissioners on the staggering amount of contributions from the worshipping public. Do the Church Commissioners anticipate a reduction in the amount received because of the credit crunch? If so, will the hon. Gentleman join me in renewing our campaign to obtain a reduced VAT rate on church repairs, now that we have established the principle that the Prime Minister is minded to lower VAT in certain circumstances?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for making that point. I should point out that the average donation to the Church of England is £8.64 a week, or £450 a year, but that is more than double the amount given by the average adult in the UK to all the other charities they support, so the Church clearly benefits from that dedication. The question of reducing VAT further is a problem throughout the European Union, as we need the consent of all the other member states. We have a reduction in VAT through a method introduced by the Prime Minister when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is still available and it has no time limit.