UNCONDITIONAL financial support from the Government amounting to at least £30 million a year will have to be given if the country’s 16,000 church buildings are to be maintained, the outgoing head of the Church Buildings Council, Sir Tony Baldry, has warned.
Using Lottery funds for churches was not a sustainable method, Sir Tony said: Lottery-ticket sales were “steadily falling”. The Government would soon have to decide “how the state gives some consistent, and regular, financial support towards the repair and maintenance of listed church buildings”.
He reminded his audience that, in France and Germany, church buildings were maintained by the government, and said that the £30-million figure for government funding “should be attainable”.
The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) conference was meeting in Salisbury this week, and, for the first time, environmental officers from dioceses were also invited. Sir Tony, who was addressing his last DAC conference as chair, said that churches also needed to lobby to ensure that, post-Brexit, there would be no UK VAT on repairs to listed church buildings.
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, said: “There are some tensions between caring for a Grade I listed building and ensuring that it is environmentally friendly. Increasingly, we are seeing how these agendas fit together as part of the mission and purpose of the local church.”