The Church of England is asking parishioners to show their support as it seeks to end VAT on alterations to its listed churches.
Forty-five per cent of England’s Grade I listed buildings are Church of England churches.
The Church today launched an e-petition calling upon the Chancellor to bring back zero rate VAT to alterations made to its 12,500 listed churches.
The petition has been set up in response to the launch of a consultation by HM Revenue & Customs on VAT charging to approved alterations to listed buildings.
The consultation is due to close on 4 May and the Church of England is hoping to attract as many signatures as possible in the remaining weeks.
Anne Sloman, chair of the Church Buildings Council, has written to the Chancellor telling him that a substantial proportion of alterations to listed churches “are concerned with making these buildings viable for use by the wide community".
"The imposition of 20 per cent VAT on this work means in practice most of it will simply stop."
She added: "It seems that this VAT proposal was aimed at householders and that the implications for the Church were not fully understood.”
The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres, and the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Tony Baldry MP, have also written letters to the Chancellor to voice serious concerns about the proposed imposition of VAT on alterations to listed buildings.
Dr Chartres said: "Some £22 million in VAT liability was incurred by parochial church councils on works undertaken in the community interest last year and they have therefore already had to bear the lion's share.
"It is against this background that I was very concerned to hear that it was proposed to extend VAT at the standard rate to alterations in listed buildings and that this change would affect places of worship.
"This will be a blow to huge numbers of volunteers who are working to open up their churches to wider community use typically by providing unglamorous but necessary lavatory and kitchen facilities."
The e-petition can be signed online now at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32229
E-petition challenges VAT on alterations to listed church buildings
Published 30 March 2012