*** DEBUG END ***

Review calls for change of attitude to church buildings  

21 December 2017


Activity: a skate park set up inside Malmesbury Abbey is cited by the review as an example of a church building being used by the community

Activity: a skate park set up inside Malmesbury Abbey is cited by the review as an example of a church building being used by the community

CHURCHES should prepare for reduced reliance on government funding, an independent review has concluded, while calling for a “cultural shift” where communities contribute to their upkeep.

The Taylor Review, commis­sioned last year to report to the Chancellor and Culture Secretary, recommends that, from 2020, the Government provide £66 mil­lion a year, compared with the “exceptional high” of 2014 and 2016, when it was £90 million.

“Long term, it is the view of the Panel that the Church of England should aspire to reach a position where its buildings can, as far as possible, be financed sustainably with reduced reliance on Government funding,” it says. In the mean time, pilot studies of a new approach, funded by the Govern­ment, should be undertaken. These would test three of the review’s recommendations: a national net­work of “Community Support Advis­ers” who could advise congrega­tions on building relationships and using their buildings to meet local needs, and a network of Fabric Sup­port Officers to work closely with them to plan and execute works. A mechanism for assessing priorities for repair would also be trialled.

The review envisages that fund­ing these two roles would cost the Government £15 million a year and recommends, in addition, a £36-million major-repairs fund and a £15-million minor-repairs fund. Currently, the Government pro­vides £42 million a year through the Listed Places of Worship Scheme. With falling congregations, churches have come to rely increasingly on grants and government funding, it says, although most funding comes from local people and charities.

“The long-term survival of Church of England church build­ings requires a change in the way many communities regard these buildings,” the review concludes. “We need to create a cultural shift in attitudes towards church build­ings such that communities realise they are resources they can use and congregations have the confidence to share space and where appro­priate to ask for a fair income.”

The report notes that, in many places, congregations and clergy have created “vibrant hubs at the centre of their wider communities”. But, it says, many are “struggling to identify suitable partner­ships and opportunities”, or are “too overwhelmed by their situation to be able to explore options”.

Bernard Taylor, who chaired the review, said on Tuesday that there was evidence that communities wanted to use churches — “they are really iconic and they want them to survive” — but that, in contrast to pre-Victorian times, they often regarded them as solely places of worship rather than as places that could have different community purposes.

The CSA officers would act as “catalysts” to change this. The review envisages CSAs would “be able to help congregations across a spectrum of experience, from ‘wor­ship only’ to ‘mainly non-worship uses’”. The main theme emerging from the thousands who responded to the review consultation was “the huge care that people feel for these buildings”, he said.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)