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Church buildings repair fund to get a bigger pot

27 September 2013

By a staff reporter


THE Government has extended the scope of the Listed Places of Worship scheme to cover works to organs, clocks, and bells.

The Church Buildings Council said that it was "absolutely delighted" by the proposed changes.

The Listed Places of Worship scheme makes grants towards the VAT incurred in making repairs and carrying out alterations to heritage buildings used for worship.

From 1 October this year, works to pipe organs, turret clocks, bells, and bell ropes will be eligible for claims under the scheme.

Professional services such as architects' fees will also be covered by the scheme for the first time.

The scheme's fund has a pot of £42 million, which the Government has guaranteed for the lifetime of this Parliament, until 2015.

Anne Sloman, who chairs the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Council for the Church of England, said: "This announcement is in the national interest as it benefits both the Treasury and those using these buildings that repairs and alterations are carried out to the highest standard.

"This investment of public money and voluntary giving by parishes and congregations is a far-sighted move which will stand the test of time. The extension of the scheme to cover professional fees is particularly welcome given the substantial cost to parishes which fees contribute to any scheme."

The Church Times columnist the Revd Maggie Durran said: "This is brilliant news. The changes are very helpful and will benefit many churches. In particular, if payments can be processed more quickly, that will be wonderful and stop churches from having to take out loans while they wait for their claims to be approved."

The Second Church Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry, said on Wednesday: "It is a very good outcome and I think demonstrates that when the CoE knows what it is seeking to achieveand when we get our act together, it is possible to prevail."

Other changes in the package announced by the Government this week seek to simplify the application process for parishes.

Churches will now be able to submit one claim each year with a value of less than £1000 as long as it is above £500. There is no limit on the number of claims submitted above £1000. Photocopied invoices will now be accepted, and payments will be processed each week, in order to speed up payments and help parishes.


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