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Parishes struggle to pay insurance premiums

by
31 January 2014

iStock

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 the market.

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 issue?

RICHARD POWELL
10 Gorse Ridge Drive, Baslow
Derbyshire DE45 1SL

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