Cathedrals feel squeeze in state heritage budget
Posted: 02 Nov 2006 @ 00:00
ENGLISH CATHEDRALS have called on the Government to take greater
responsibility for church heritage, after it was announced last week that
English Heritage grants to them had been halved to £1 million for 2005-06. The
grants now cover less than ten per cent of the total repair and restoration
English Heritage warned last year that the 2004 grant figure was likely to
be halved in 2005 (
News, 6 February 2004), because of cuts in the heritage sector. These have
led to a five-per-cent cut in English Heritage's budget, announced last month.
News, 24 December).
Speaking on Tuesday, the chief executive of English Heritage, Dr Simon
Thurley, said: "Our grants have been cut, and we have had to look around at
what are lesser areas of priority, and cathedrals have been one of these. But,
despite the cuts, we have preserved our grants to parish churches."
The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Colin Slee, spokesman for the
Association of English Cathedrals, said that although English cathedrals had
been "enormously helped" by English Heritage over the past 15 years, they still
had to find a further £10 million on top of the current grants.
"Cathedrals do not receive any other government support. We are deeply
concerned at the reductions in public funding for heritage, with the government
grant to English Heritage cut in real terms. Proposals in the Lottery Bill
could also affect the funds available to the Heritage Lottery Fund."
Dean Slee said that in Europe the situation was fairer, particularly in
France, where the state is responsible for maintaining cathedrals, and in
Germany and Scandanavia, where taxation covers church funding.
Twenty cathedrals, 16 Church of England and four Roman Catholic, have
benefited from this year's English Heritage grants. Salisbury, Lincoln and
Hereford Cathedrals are beneficiaries of the largest grants, of £100,000 each.
Coventry Cathedral, where the grants were announced last week, receives
£94,000 towards the cost of repairing its roof. "This work is urgent in view of
leakages," said an English Heritage grant officer.
The smallest grants are given to Southwark Roman Catholic Cathedral, awarded
£10,000 for repairs to stonework, and Wakefield Cathedral, awarded £14,000 for
the second phase of a digital survey.
Since the English Heritage grants began 14 years ago, cathedrals have been
allocated nearly £41 million for repairs.
Anya Matthews of English Heritage said that 27 cathedrals had applied for 37
different grants for 2004-05, totalling £3,953,000.