Make churches an issue in the General Election
Published: Friday, May 5, 2017
Church buildings and the 2017 General Election
With a General Election due to take place on 8 June 2017, the National Churches Trust is asking voters to raise the issue of how best to ensure a future for church buildings with Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.
The UK's 42,000 churches and chapels are unmatched for history, architecture and sheer variety anywhere else in the world. However, their future is not guaranteed.
Many people think that the Church of England pays for the upkeep of the UK’s church buildings. But it is actually up to parishes themselves to raise the money needed to repair a leaking roof or fix a crumbling spire. The cost of repairing a church roof often costs over £250,000, a very large sum for an inner city church or a small rural parish. The sum of money needed to repair all of the UK’s churches could be well over £1 billion.
A factsheet has been produced by the National Churches Trust which outlines some of the key facts about church buildings. It also includes some questions that voters concerned about the future of church buildings could ask Prospective Parliamentary Candidates.
1. Do you think there should be Government funding for church repairs?
The UK’s churches will always require funding from a variety of sources to pay for repairs and new facilities. That’s partly because of the costs involved in looking after historic buildings.
A Government funded Roof Repair Fund of £55 million was made available in 2015-2016 to fund urgent roof repairs. The Fund was substantially oversubscribed, indicating there is a need for more, rather than less, funding to ensure the long term survival of the UK’s precious heritage of church buildings.
Would you be in favour of similar Government support for church buildings?
2. Do you think the Heritage Lottery Fund could do more to help church buildings?
From September 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) Grants for Places of Worship programme will close to new applications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (the programme may continue in Scotland, as it is a joint initiative with Historic Environment Scotland).
This will be the first time since 1977 that there will be no dedicated funding available for church repairs from Government or a Government heritage agency.
Taking into account the national importance of church buildings, would you support the re-instatement of an HLF dedicated fund for church buildings?
Public support for church buildings
A December 2016 opinion poll by ComRes, commissioned by the National Churches Trust showed wide public support for church buildings
It showed that four in five Britons (83%) agree that the UK’s churches, chapels and meeting houses are an important part of the UK’s heritage and history. The poll also showed that 57% of British adults believe it is the government’s responsibility to help to fund repairs.