Listed places of worship on the brink of maintenance work should hold on until April 1, a Church of England spokesman said, or forfeit the greater VAT refund promised to them by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, last week.
Work carried out on listed places of worship as of next month will be eligible for a full VAT refund of 17.5 per cent, whereas churches that started repairs earlier will only be allowed the current 12.5 per cent refund, updated last week in Chancellor's Budget.
Mr Brown announced the VAT refund top-up as part of the Government's expanded grant support to listed buildings. The refund increase will result in payouts of over 2m per year to repair projects mostly undertaken on Church of England buildings, the spokesman said.
Parishes struggling to fund repairs to listed churches have welcomed the Budget day announcement that came two years after the introduction of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme from which 4,500 places of worship have benefited.
In the diocese of Worcester, where a vast majority of diocesan church buildings are listed, a diocesan spokesman joined the Churches Main Committee in welcoming Chancellor's Budget, describing the five per cent rise as a relief to the "people in the parishes" burdened with raising funds to repair and renovate their places of worship.
Church of England and Jewish representatives in the Churches Main Committee also welcomed the news as well as the ongoing Government campaigns for a reduced VAT rate at European Union level.
"Many historic churches, synagogues and other places of worship throughout the United Kingdom will be grateful for this further recognition of their value," the Chairman of the Churches Main Committee, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Rev Jonathan Bailey said.