Insurer calls on government to extend church grant scheme

Ecclesiastical Insurance is calling for the government to extend the Listed Places of Worship (LPW) grant scheme to provide vital support for listed churches in the UK during the pandemic.

The specialist insurer has over 130 years of expertise insuring places of worship and protects some of the most loved and important buildings in the  UK.

Ahead of the budget announcement on 3 March, Ecclesiastical is calling on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to extend the LPW grant scheme beyond the current deadline of 31 March to support churches and to help preserve the UK’s heritage.

The LPW grant scheme makes grants towards the VAT incurred in making repairs and carrying out alterations to listed buildings mainly used for public worship. The scheme covers building repairs, plus repairs to turret clocks, pews, bells and pipe organs.

Since its introduction in 2001 the scheme has paid out £317million, assisting with the refurbishment and repair of over 13,000 buildings.

Over the last year churches have experienced major shortfalls in funding as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent impact.

As well as the regular income from services churches have seen fees from other events drop, causing concern that many churches will suffer further financial hardship should the grant scheme be removed.

Michael Angell, church operations director at Ecclesiastical, said:

“It is vital that the government extends the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme beyond the deadline in March. This provides an important lifeline to so many churches and its absence would be another blow at this difficult and challenging time.

“The government is in a position whereby they can help churches to protect our wonderful heritage by extending this grant scheme. They recognise that there is huge amount of upkeep required to maintain our listed places of worship, which is why the scheme was created in the first place.

“Churches and the communities they serve have been heavily affected by the pandemic and the impact on places of worship, which are such a big part of the fabric of society, would jeopardise the future of not only much loved buildings, but the individuals who depend on them.”

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