Did the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement help churches?
THE government scheme for repairs to listed places of worship and for roof repairs will continue, the former up until the next General Election, and the latter into the second phase of roof repairs.
Some guidance has been issued after the first round of roof repairs, because a key indicator on financial viability became the reason that many bids failed. It is a challenge for small or failing churches to show they are viable, but this criterion relates to the questions English Heritage used to ask archdeacons about grant applicants: is this applicant church viable for the next ten years; are there any plans to close it in that time?
The Gift Aid scheme is being updated, and treasurers will require new information before clawing back the donors’ tax against donations. Your old Gift Aid envelopes may be used up, but the new ones should include a declaration that the donor has paid income tax at least to the amount of the gift. HMRC has produced a template for use. It should tidy up some anomalies in the system.
After some concern from the Landfill Community Funds, overall, the scheme has been left in place. There may be some decrease in grant-making as the old third-party funding has gone, and the landfill operators will have to find these sums themselves; some dioceses have helped churches with this element of match funding, but will not be called on in the same way in future.
The information will be available in the near future on Landfill Community Fund websites. So this very valuable source of funds is still open to churches, most often for facilities that open up churches for local groups to use. Grants are commonly for a maximum of £50,000, but the guidelines of each trust will give more detail.
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