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Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme

Volume 547: debated on Thursday 5 July 2012

10. What recent assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the listed places of worship grants scheme. (115251)

The sum of £30 million per year, for the life of this Parliament, will be added to the existing listed places of worship grant scheme, making a total fund of £42 million per year. The fund will be made available annually to ensure that all eligible repairs and alterations to listed church buildings receive a full rebate of the equivalent of VAT.

On behalf of many church leaders from Harlow and the villages who have written to me about this issue—Valerie and Simon Dinwiddy from St Mary-at-Latton church, Joan Jones and many others—I thank the Government for listening. Can my hon. Friend give those people comfort by assuring them that his financial support will not last for just a few months, but is a longer-term commitment from the Government?

I think that we must all thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for making the extra money available. Indeed, he has undertaken to make it available each year for the remaining life of the current Parliament. I hope that we can secure cross-party agreement and understanding that the scheme will continue irrespective of what happens at the next general election.

Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that churches in Wales will benefit from the rebate scheme when VAT similar to that in England is imposed on them?

I shall have to take advice on that point. I am not responsible for the Church in Wales, which was cruelly disestablished and dis-endowed by Lloyd George.