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English Heritage (Church Repairs)

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

6. What discussions the Church Commissioners have had with English Heritage on grant funding for church repairs in 2010-11. (321511)

Church officials meet regularly with English Heritage, which, together with the Heritage Lottery Fund, offers grants for urgent repairs to listed places of worship. The scheme continues to be oversubscribed and is due to end in March 2011, so we expect to have discussions with English Heritage this year about its continuation.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but it is extremely alarming that from the end of March next year there is no guarantee of funds being available. Will he also confirm that the amount of funding has been severely reduced in recent years, meaning that fewer churches are eligible for it?

The Church itself has spent £110 million on current repairs, due in no small measure to the listed places of worship grant scheme, which saw VAT reduced to 5 per cent. The Church can be grateful that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, now the Prime Minister, pushed that through. We are looking to continue discussions with the European Commission and others to ensure that it is continued. As to the fact that grant money has been reduced, that is regrettably the case.