THE Chancellor of the Exchequer smiled on cathedrals this week,
announcing a £20-million grant scheme for repairs, "in recognition
of their heritage significance and role in forthcoming remembrance
activities to commemorate the First World War".
The grant, listed in the Budget on Wednesday, provides a new
source of funding, which will be available for two years to Church
of England and Roman Catholic Cathedrals in England.
Becky Clark, senior cathedrals officer in the Cathedral and
Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops' Council, said that,
after discussions with the Treasury, "We are exceptionally pleased
with the level of funding."
There is currently no direct government funding for cathedrals,
and the Heritage Lottery Fund, while "really generous", provided
funding for development projects rather than fabric repairs, Ms
Clark said. The Church of England predicts a £87 million
repair-funding shortfall over the next five years.
The National Churches Trust welcomed the announcement, but
warned that many of the country's 47,000 churches, chapels and
meeting houses remained at risk, "especially those serving small
Delivering his speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr
Osborne said: "If you're a maker, a doer or a saver, this Budget is
for you." On Tuesday, he announced that all families receiving
Universal Credit would be eligible to receive 85 per cent support
on childcare costs, up from 70 per cent.
The chief executive of the Children's Society, Matthew Reed,
said: "Making sure childcare is affordable to those who need it
most is pivotal to making sure parents are not excluded from work
by the prohibitive cost."
But he criticised the Chancellor's decision to cap welfare
spending at £119 billion in 2015-16, which "takes no account of
changing circumstances of families caught up in poverty facing
rising living costs beyond their control, including childcare and
On Thursday, the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd
David Urquhart, said that there was "much to welcome" in the
Budget, "not least the news that economic growth is strengthening,
[and] the long awaited transferable tax allowance for married
The Chancellor announced that a spouse or civil partner not
liable to income tax above the basic rate would be able to transfer
£1,050 of their personal allowance to their spouse or civil
partner (provided that the recipient is not liable to
income tax above the basic rate).
Bishop Urquhart said that this was "a welcome step in the right
direction in supporting those who choose marriage as a means to
formalise their commitment. Government can and should go further,
including addressing imbalances within the tax system that, as
recent research has shown, continue to place an emphasis against
single income earner families (News, 14
He said: "I strongly support the Chancellor's commitment to
thrift. . . However, greater emphasis in the Budget on promoting
saving on the part of those on lower incomes - who are most in need
of the financial buffer savings provide - would have been welcome."
The impact of the cap on welfare was "most troubling . . . The
poorest working families will benefit little from further increases
in the personal tax allowance, either because they are already
earning less than the current threshold or because most of the
increase in their net earnings will be deducted from their
benefits. Contrary to the rhetoric, it is not low income households
who benefit most from these changes, but those on middle and higher
City for Ebbsfleet. On Sunday, the Chancellor
announced that up to £200 million would be invested in a "Garden
City" in Ebbsfleet, in north-west Kent. About 15,000 homes will be
built on brownfield land.
The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, said that
the announcement seemed to be bringing forward existing plans: "The
local churches are already engaging with the new housing that is
being built now, and we have been talking with the planners and
developers about options for the future. . . We are determined to
establish fruitful Christian presence within these new