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Church Commissioners

Volume 682: debated on Thursday 15 October 2020

The hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners was asked—

Renting of Church Premises

What assessment the Church of England has made of the economic effect on parishes of the inability to rent out church premises during the covid-19 outbreak. (907548)

Around 60% of parish income comes from giving, but rental income from halls and other premises has been badly affected, so I would strongly encourage Christians to increase their giving to their local church if they are able to do so, to support our ability to tell more people the good news of Jesus and, critically, to support the 35,000 social action projects helping children who are homeless and vulnerable.

St Mary’s in Aylesbury is a grade 1 listed community treasure that is fundraising for much-needed repair and restoration, but it has lost about 40% of its overall income this year due to coronavirus, notwithstanding the commitment of members of the congregation who are paying by standing order, which is still being done. However, events such as lunchtime concerts, craft fairs and civic services have all been cancelled, so what will the Church do to help parishes such as St Mary’s financially during the current crisis?

I very much recognise the picture that my hon. Friend paints of what is happening at St Mary’s in Aylesbury. I can tell him that, nationally, the Church has provided a sustainability fund to respond to the financial pressures caused by covid, and I also want to thank the Culture Secretary for the £10.7 million for vital repair work for 66 churches and cathedrals, and for what it will do to keep key craftsmen and women in work. I would welcome my hon. Friend’s support in engaging the Government with the Taylor review recommendations to support the maintenance of churches like St Mary’s in Aylesbury in a sustainable and long-term manner.