Government extends support available for listed churches

(Photo: Unsplash/Hermes Rivera)

More listed churches are to receive the help they need to preserve their historic buildings for future generations after the Government announced that it is to extend a grant scheme. 

The Treasury has agreed to extend the listed places of worship grants scheme (LPWGS) for a further year until March 2021.

Through the scheme, churches can receive grants equal to the VAT incurred on urgent repairs, thereby reducing the total amount that congregations have to fundraise to cover the costs. 

Churches and cathedrals contribute an estimated £220m a year to the economy, according to research group Ecorys. They also run thousands of social action projects, like homeless night shelters and community soup kitchens.  But the burden of paying for repairs lies solely with the congregations. 

Congregations of older bulidings often struggle with the maintenance costs, particularly keeping their buildings watertight, with leaks being one of the biggest causes of damage to ageing structures. 

The additional problem of lead theft targeting many historic rural churches can leave congregations shouldering repair costs of thousands. 

Now hundreds more churches will have the chance to apply for grants from the LPWGS before the extended deadline of March 2021. 

Dr David Knight, Senior Church Buildings Officer, said: "We want to thank the Government for their continuing support for churches through the Taylor Pilots and the extension of this scheme.

"It will be a welcome reassurance to many churches with plans for the next year or two that they have certainty over VAT."

Helen Whately, Heritage Minister, said: "Listed places of worship are a precious part of our heritage and we want to make sure they are properly protected and preserved for future generations.

"I'm pleased that many more of these wonderful historic buildings across the country will now benefit from the government's grant scheme."