UK: the government to set up a review into sustaining churches

UK: the government to set up a review into sustaining churches

The UK government will provide £20 million across 2016-17 and 2017-18 to extend the First World War Centenary cathedral repairs fund. A review into sustaining England’s churches and cathedrals will be set up to assess maintenance and repair pressures and examine how the sector can become more financially sustainable.

St John the Baptist, Kingston Lisle, Oxfordshire

The National Churches Trust* has welcomed this announcement. Luke March, Chairman of the National Churches Trust, said:

“England’s tripartite system of funding repairs to church buildings, with money coming from Government and national organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, charities including the National Churches Trust, and local people and congregations, has helped many cherished places of worship. However, many more of these beautiful buildings continue to be under threat from leaking roofs, crumbling masonry and rotting timbers.”

“I welcome the Government’s announcement of a review into sustaining England’s churches and cathedrals. With changing patterns of worship and increasing demand on public money, now is the right time to examine what level of financial support will be needed in the future to keep church buildings of all denominations in good repair. The review should also look at ways of providing practical support to people looking after churches, many of whom are volunteers, so that they can better maintain their buildings and prevent expensive repairs being needed in the first place.”

“This is also an opportunity to help more church buildings become community hubs. Many are already venues for community activities such as playgroups, cultural events, meetings and lunch clubs, as well as for worship.  Others provide space for farmers’ markets, post offices and libraries.  The more church buildings are used by local people, the greater chance they have of being there for future generations.

“England’s churches, chapels and meeting house are a unique part of our national story. I hope that the review’s terms of reference will also allow for an examination of how churches can be more effectively promoted to tourists and visitors, who can bring with them much needed revenue to help support the long term future of religious heritage.”

*The National Churches Trust is the national independent charity concerned with the protection and welfare of churches, chapels and meeting houses throughout the United Kingdom.

Her Majesty’s Treasury – Budget Report – March 2016 (pdf)

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