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Chancellor announces details of church roof grants

26 March 2015

Chancellor awards £30 million funding package for listed places of worship today, with second round of £25 million to open for 2015-16

Nearly 400 Church of England parishes are to receive grants for urgent repairs to their church roofs in the first round of awards from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund, Chancellor George Osborne announced today.

ChurchCare, the buildings division of the Church of England, welcomed the grants for 372 parish churches and said that this would make an “immeasurable” difference to local communities.

The total funding package for the first round of the scheme announced today by the Treasury is £30 million, which will go to a total of 502 listed places of worship, with Church of England parishes receiving just over £19 million.

Extra funding announced in last week’s Budget will enable a second round of grants to be awarded next year to the value of an additional £25 million.

Around 12,000 of the Church of England’s 16,000 parish churches are listed and 806 of these were included on the 2014 Heritage at Risk Register prepared by English Heritage. This highlighted the impact of leaks from roofs as the principal cause of decay in historic churches.

All the churches benefiting today will receive grants between £10,000 and £100,000 towards the urgent repair of roofs, gutters and drains.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has said the funding will “create local skilled jobs, improve community facilities and protect heritage.”

The Fund, administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, was heavily oversubscribed when applications closed on January 31. The decision to increase the scheme to total of £55 million, to be awarded over two rounds, was a response to this demand.

The Rt Hon Canon Sir Tony Baldry MP, Chair of the Church Buildings Council, said: “I can think of no similar time when any Chancellor has made available such sums for church repair.

“For many people the presence of a church in their community is symbolic of the nation and a source of support and comfort even for those who are not regular church-goers.

“We are constantly seeing what more we can do to make church buildings more serviceable to the wider community so that they can be used as much as possible, and not simply for Sunday worship. The grants today will enable the recipients to continue this aim, with a safe, watertight building.”

The Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings, said: “The parish churches of our land are jewels in the crown of our national heritage. As such, though cared for by Church of England parishioners, they are everyone’s heritage and we are very grateful that this has been recognised by the Government through these grants for essential repairs. This will enable these wonderful buildings the better to be used to serve the communities at the heart of which they stand, now and in the future. ”

The Chancellor, George Osborne, said: “Churches and Cathedrals are a unique part of our national heritage, and play a vital role in community life – we want to support them, and thanks to our long-term economic plan, we can.
“Whether it’s our country’s future or these important buildings, the sun is shining and we’re starting to fix the roof.”

Janet Gough, Director of ChurchCare, expressed her thanks for the funding. She said: “The impact of this will be unparalleled, amounting to the largest number of church roof repairs carried out at any one time under a funding scheme. Rain water entering a building through damaged roofs and gutters can quickly damage the historic interiors that help to make these buildings so significant. Damage can rapidly accelerate, making a building unsound for use. Basic repairs are fundamental to preventing this happening, and the fund will make an immeasurable difference to those that receive grants. We are incredibly grateful to the Chancellor for having made provision for such an important scheme, and for extending it to another round, to give everyone a second chance to apply.”

The second round, for the allocation of the remaining £25 million set aside for the scheme, is expected to open later in 2015. Both unsuccessful applicants under the initial scheme and new applicants will be able to apply, and ChurchCare will be providing support and guidance to those interested in applying. More information will be made available from the LPOW Roof Repair Fund and ChurchCare websites in due course.