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Listed Places of Worship scheme extended to 2025

11 February 2022

VAT grants ‘reduce the financial burden on congregations’

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St Mary’s, Rickmansworth, is one of thousands of Grade II listed churches in England

St Mary’s, Rickmansworth, is one of thousands of Grade II listed churches in England

THE Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme (LPWGS) has been extended for a further three years to the end of March 2025, it has been confirmed.

The government scheme had been due to end next month, after a year’s extension (News, 5 March 2021). Through it, 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 Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society, Nigel Huddleston, posted on Twitter on Thursday: “There are over 21,000 places of worship across the UK and many need complex and costly repairs. The Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme has been extended to 2025 to preserve these important heritage assets for generations to come.”

He had said last week: “I do hope that this will provide the assurance required to plan necessary works to help keep these important and valued buildings alive for their communities.”

The new deadline is listed on the LPWGS website (lpwscheme.org.uk).

The Church of England was informed of the change last month. On Monday, the churches and cathedrals director of the Archbishops’ Council, Becky Clark, thanked Mr Huddleston for his support, and that of Historic England and the Heritage Alliance. “It is right that our parishes and cathedrals receive support in caring for such a huge and important part of the nation’s heritage, keeping it fit to deliver worship, mission, and community focus for all,” she said.

The announcement comes as heritage bodies continue to campaign to get VAT on listed building repairs zero-rated, in line with newbuilds. The Church Times understands that this includes an environmental argument about the carbon benefits of adaptive re-use, of which the Church of England is supportive.

The chief executive of the National Churches Trust, Claire Walker, said on Tuesday: “The LPWGS reduces the financial burden on congregations, and helps churches to continue their vital activities as centres of worship and community in safe and sustainable buildings. Knowing that VAT can be reclaimed until 2025 will give churches the certainty they need when planning and carrying out building projects.”

The church-operations director at Ecclesiastical, Helen Richards, said: “We know from our interactions with our church customers that they are still facing huge financial challenges as a result of the pandemic, with many having to use reserves to stay afloat. There is a vast amount of upkeep required to maintain our listed places of worship, which is why the scheme was created in the first place, and the financial pressure of increases in fuel costs are only adding to that challenge.”

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