The UK Houses of Parliament lit up with a blue sky behind and part of the river Thames visible Michael D Beckwith
Michael D Beckwith

Put churches on the agenda during the General Election campaign


Right now, many church buildings are in danger of closure, putting at risk amazing heritage and support for local people. But you can help turn this around. The General Election on 4 July gives us all a chance to say how important churches are and what help we need from the next UK Government to keep these wonderful buildings open and in good repair.  

The future of churches is in our hands

Below, we provide some key facts about church buildings that you can share with prospective Parliamentary candidates, and which will help you make the case for church buildings. You will also find some useful questions to ask them to help find out what they think about your local church heritage and the future of church buildings.

How can I contact my candidates?

  • In person. When candidates or canvassers phone you or come to your door, have the suggested questions ready to ask them.  
  • At a local hustings meeting. You can find out if hustings meetings are taking place near you by looking in your local paper or on social media. You could ask in your local Facebook community group if people know of any that are happening.
  • Through the media. Use this briefing to help write an open letter to your local candidate and send it to your local paper or call your local radio station. They often hold phone- in programmes around election time and want questions from listeners. 
  • On social media. You could tweet your questions to candidates.

Please let us know of any responses you get by emailing as it  will be really helpful after the election to know who we can approach to help us keep churches open.

You can find out who your local candidates are and how to contact them here.  

Making the case for church buildings

Church buildings are important – for the spiritual support they provide and also because of their heritage and the community support they offer.

Church buildings contribute £55 billion a year in economic and social value

This is taken from our House of Good research, published in 2021.  We also estimate that community and social support provided by churches saves the NHS an estimated £10 billion a year. 

Number of people visiting churches

Our research carried out at the end of 2023 showed that churches remain very popular buildings, at the heart of local communities:

  • Over two thirds of UK adults agree that churches are an important part of the UK’s heritage and history
  • More than half of UK adults visited a church, chapel or meeting house in the past year
  • 18-34-year-olds were most likely to have visited a church for a non-religious activity or service
  • 55 per cent of people visited a church for worship, community activities or as a visitor or tourist.

Number of people volunteering in churches  

The average church in the UK reports that people spend 214 hours volunteering there each month. This amounts to tens of millions of volunteer hours a year across the UK’s 38,500 churches. Churches are by far the UK's largest base for voluntary activity. 

How many churches are at risk of closure or have been forced to close recently?

  • In England, there are 943 places of worship on the latest Historic England Heritage at Risk Register – with 53 more added in 2023.  
  • In Wales/Cymru, 25 per cent of historic churches and chapels have closed in the last decade.
  • The Church of Scotland is actively planning to close as many as 30-40 per cent of its churches.

How repair costs are crippling churches

The backlog for repairs to church buildings belonging to the Church of England alone is at least £1 billion, with the average annual cost for maintenance and repairs to parish churches estimated at £150 million. The problems of funding are often greatest in the most deprived areas. The Covid 19 pandemic, as well as the cost-of-living crisis, has seen project costs for repairs dramatically increase in the last few years.

How the National Churches Trust is supporting churches to stay open and in good repair

As the UK’s leading independent charity for church buildings, we work with churches of all denominations and have a national presence – with local officers based in each country in the UK. Since 1953, the National Churches Trust has provided funding of more than £130 million to support the UK’s church buildings. In 2023, we were able to help remove seven churches from Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, award £2 million in grants and provide training and support to hundreds of churches across the UK.

This year, with the support of other heritage and conservation charities, we launched Every Church Counts, a six point plan to help save church buildings. If implemented by church bodies, heritage organisations and the next UK Government, this plan would help keep many more churches open and thriving. It calls for more UK Government  funding for church buildings, a strategy for church tourism to get more people to visit them and making it easier for  volunteers to help look after church buildings.

Questions for candidates

Our church buildings face a crisis and there should be some public funding for repairs like most other European countries. Do you support this?

In the UK, almost the whole burden of supporting church buildings now falls on local people. Without regular financial support from the UK Government, and more funding from heritage organisations, Christian denominations and philanthropic trusts, more and more churches will close if they cannot pay for repairs. This will mean an uncertain future for precious buildings, symbols of hope and continuity, and the loss of the community support they provide.  

What the next UK Government can do to help:

To help keep the UK’s churches open and serving local people and to save their heritage for the future, we need ringfenced public funding of at least £50 million for major repairs. There could be a national matched funding scheme to incentivise charitable donations and private philanthropy.

There is unrealised potential for tourism. Will you help?

The UK’s local churches form some of our most important heritage. They contain the UK’s largest collection of art, sculpture and stained glass. There are thousands of amazing churches in wonderful locations. The sheer variety, beauty and history of the UK’s churches allows UK and overseas visitors to learn more about our history and culture  

Making more of their history and heritage can transform the future of the UK’s local churches and boost local jobs. Tourism is one of the most important sectors in the UK economy. In 2021, the value of day visits to heritage sites in England was £5.5 billion.  

What the next UK Government can do to help:

The UK Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, working with the main national tourism organisations, should commission a national study into how to make more of the unrivalled heritage of the UK’s churches.

The UK Government needs to do more to support local charities, especially local churches. Will you help?

For example, the UK Government could ask local councils and public bodies such as the NHS to make more use of churches and church halls to host public and community services, helping to upgrade facilities where needed. This could include NHS surgeries, advice centres and cultural activities such as public libraries and music events.

What the next UK Government can do to help:

One way to bring this about is through better relationships on the ground, such as faith officers employed by local councils or through having local church representatives on the boards of Town Centre Action Plans or other key civic bodies. The ‘Faith Covenant’ provides a good way of helping promote co-operation between churches and local councils and more local authorities could adopt the covenant.

How would you help church heritage that is at risk?

Over 300 Parliamentary constituencies have churches on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register that are in urgent need of repair. A useful question to ask your Prospective Parliamentary Candidates would be what they would do if elected to  obtain more funding for church buildings and so help remove any churches near you from the Heritage at Risk Register. You can search the Register online on the Historic England website. Or you can also email us with your postcode and we can provide the information for you.

A stained glass window with 'Every Church Counts' and the National Churches Trust logo on top