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Listed Places of Worship (Grants)

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 16 March 2010

8. What plans he has for the future of the listed places of worship grants scheme; and if he will make a statement. (322192)

The Government’s plans for the listed places of worship scheme beyond 31 March next year will be announced in the spending review later in the year.

I hope that it will be good news. The Minister will know that the scheme involves money given to help defray the cost of value added tax on repairing listed buildings. Many communities up and down the country are trying to keep their churches in good repair, and either the scheme has to be extended or the Government must restore heritage as part of national lottery funding. Does he agree that we cannot expect this important element of our built heritage to be done on thin air?

The hon. Gentleman raises an important point. This scheme has now generated some £100 million for 10,000 buildings since it was introduced in 2001. We have recognised that listed churches are a special case. Our long-term aim is that a lower rate of VAT should be agreed at European level for instances of that kind, but in the meantime the joint English Heritage/Heritage Lottery Fund scheme is providing £25 million a year. We will look at that particular scheme again in the spending review.