To ask the right hon. Member for Meriden, representing the Church Commissioners, what steps the Commissioners are taking to assist urban parishes with capital funding for urgent restorative building work.
2 March 2017
The Church of England highly values the work of the Heritage Lottery Fund in running the Grants for Places of Worship Scheme, a fund which puts £30m a year into UK listed places of worship, of all faiths and denominations. This dedicated scheme takes account of the specific needs of places of worship that are primarily run by volunteers who cannot afford to employ the skills of professional grant-application writers.
The Church has also worked closely with the National Heritage Memorial Fund during the recent Church Roofs Fund scheme that has invested £55m in over 400 places of worship, 300 of which were Anglican churches. This scheme has successfully kept the roof on churches where it was urgently needed in order to keep the building open for its community. This scheme has now ended and we are working with the National Heritage Memorial Fund to evaluate the impact of the scheme across the country.
Given the profound contribution churches make to the social and economic life of the nation it is right that this is recognised in this way, especially as the scheme ensures outcomes from repairs including benefits to local people.
The Church Buildings Council last year awarded just over £600,000 to churches for urgent repairs to buildings and objects including stained glass, sculpture and monuments. This is part of a long-term partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, Pilgrim Trust and Radcliffe Trust. The partnership between Wolfson Foundation, Pilgrim and Radcliffe Trusts has enabled a simple application process and fast response time, making it a relatively small but very valuable resource for struggling parishes. We are actively seeking to secure the future of this fund and increase its grant-giving capacity through the work of our new associated charity, the Anglican Parish Churches Fund.