From Mr Richard Powell
Sir, - Many parishes in our diocese are currently being
subjected to a total overhaul of their insurance agreements that
they have with Ecclesiastical. The review, which really should be
undertaken at least every five years, is the first that we have
witnessed since 1999.
As a consequence of this, many small parishes, with churches
that are listed, are now being faced with unacceptable rises in
both valuations and premiums.
My own parish has witnessed a 49.95-per-cent increase in the
valuation of its Church Rooms, which in turn has resulted in an
increase of 22.23 per cent in the premium. For our church, a Grade
II* listed building, the valuation has risen by 30 per cent, and
its annual premium has risen by 49 per cent. We have an average
congregation of 30; and yet we are being asked to insure our
buildings, which are part of the nation's heritage, on behalf of
the wider community.
Just to pay our parish share and annual insurance means that
each member of our congregation needs to give £11 a week, an
impossible target for our ageing community. We continue, however,
to work with our insurers to try to reduce the figures quoted.
We are told that the figures put forward by our insurers are
based on professional advice that does not necessarily need to be
acted upon; so is the answer to look elsewhere? You look, and what
you find is that Ecclesiastical appears to own about 97 per cent of
Small country parishes, and perhaps many others, just have to be
given help on this issue. I am aware that Ecclesiastical does
recycle some of its funds back into the dioceses. Surely it would
be far better to reduce the premiums.
It is, however, the wider issue of government support which
needs tackling urgently. The Government just seems so far behind
when compared with other countries in the EU, as several do take
positive steps to protect their national heritage. Could not our
representatives in the House of Lords start to make this an
10 Gorse Ridge Drive, Baslow
Derbyshire DE45 1SL