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Cathedrals: Sustainable Incomes

Volume 705: debated on Thursday 9 December 2021

8. What discussions the Church Commissioners have had with the deans of English cathedrals on methodologies to generate sustainable incomes. (904639)

Being a new Member, my hon. Friend is still learning the ropes. I can tell him that the commissioners recently allocated £20 million to the cathedral sustainability fund, and grants have been made for more than 120 new posts in cathedrals to support fundraising, engagement and financial stability. Deans and staff from our 42 cathedrals also recently met to learn from each other and share best practice.

Take two, Mr Speaker. My hon. Friend said earlier in answer to a previous question that according to the Treasury, £50 billion is generated for the economy by our lovely English cathedrals, including, of course, the 800-year-old cathedral in Lichfield. Cathedrals are not just places for worship; they are used as vaccination centres and concert halls, and even for political hustings and debates. They cost several million pounds each year to maintain, so could he say a bit more about what regular funding can be provided?

I am happy to do that. Indeed, £50 billion is the contribution to national wellbeing that the Treasury calculated through its Green Book methodology. My hon. Friend is one of Lichfield cathedral’s most steadfast and vocal supporters, and rightly so, because the cathedral is not just a centre of worship; it plays a vital role in the local community and economy by serving, for example, as a vaccination centre recently, as he said.

Although we are hugely grateful for the £29.4 million for cathedrals from the Government’s culture recovery fund, £140 million is needed for cathedral repairs and maintenance over the next five years. If we want our cathedrals to continue to be at the heart of our national life, we will all have to put our hands in our pockets to keep them in good repair, because we cannot let 800 years of worship and service fail on our watch.