THE Listed Places of Worship (LPW) Grant Scheme has been extended for a further year to the end of March 2022, it was confirmed last week.
Through the government scheme, which had been due to end at the end of this month, representatives of listed places of worship can apply for a grant to cover the VAT costs incurred when carrying out urgent building repairs. Since its inception in 2001, the scheme has paid out £317 million to support 13,000 buildings.
The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Nigel Huddleston, told the House of Commons last week: “I am pleased to be able to confirm that the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme will be renewed this year on the same terms as it operated previously. This scheme will continue to benefit listed places of worship across the country during these difficult times. It will also help to ensure that they are able to reopen fully once it is safe to do so.”
This was confirmed in a briefing sent to the House of Bishops. It reads: “The scheme was due to cease at the end March this year so this confirmation provides assurance to all churches and cathedrals engaged in works to listed buildings that they will be able to recover grants equivalent to 20-per-cent VAT costs.
“Officers of the Archbishops’ Council have been working closely with government officials to make the case for this extension, which is on the same terms as the current grant scheme — worth up to £42 million a year to listed places of worship — and will continue to be administered by Top Mark.”
The move was welcomed by the church-buildings and cathedrals director for the Archbishops’ Council, Becky Clark. She said on Tuesday: “The extension of the LPOW scheme is good news for thousands of parishes, and a vote of confidence in their hard work caring for our historic churches. We are very grateful to everyone who helped to make the case for this extension, and to DCMS who led the process. . .
“Funding like this helps to balance the needs of the historic estate with the work parishes do to serve their wider communities through social-action projects, community engagement, and providing an unrivalled network that offers everyone who walks through the door a place of peace, contemplation, discovery, and joy.”
The National Churches Trust said that the extension came as a “great relief” for churches, but hoped that the scheme would be further extended. “Although churches and cathedrals are responsible for fund-raising for their own repairs, the scheme pays grants to cover the VAT incurred on urgent structural work and new roofs and reduces the burden on congregations to raise funds. . .
“The National Churches Trusts hopes that when the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme is next reviewed that it be guaranteed until March 2025 to provide certainty for churches undertaking repair projects.”
The church operations director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, Michael Angell, was grateful for the recognition that there was a “huge amount of upkeep required to maintain our listed places of worship, which is why the scheme was created in the first place.
“Churches and the communities they serve have been heavily affected by the pandemic and the loss of the scheme would have had a profound impact on places of worship, which are such a big part of the fabric of society, jeopardising the future of not only much loved buildings, but the individuals who depend on them.”