Taylor Review on the Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals published

Published: Wednesday, December 20, 2017


The Review was commissioned in April 2016, reporting to the Chancellor and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In his foreword to the Review, Bernard Taylor said:

 “This Review was commissioned to consider how church buildings could become more sustainable – ensuring that maintenance, repairs and major works can be undertaken in a timely way and funded as far as possible by the congregation or PCC, and that opportunities to generate additional income to meet these costs are maximised. Significant change, and some reduction in the reliance of church buildings on public funding sources, cannot be achieved overnight. We therefore propose a transitional programme of change and investment, during which congregations can be supported in opening up their church buildings for wider community use, alongside the introduction of more strategic oversight of maintenance and repair works. To be effective and to minimise risk of wasting resource, changes should be tested and refined before they are rolled out nationally. We propose that pilot studies should be undertaken during the next two to three years, to provide evidence of the effective working of the approach set out in this report. Collaborative and partnership working across the sector will be critical to the success of these pilot studies.”

Read the Taylor Review

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust said:

 "I welcome the publication of the Taylor Review on the sustainability of English churches and cathedrals. Bernard Taylor and his team are to be congratulated on producing a thorough and much needed examination of how best to ensure the future of these buildings which define our towns, cities and villages."

 "The Church of England’s 16,000  parish church buildings are centres of worship, mission and community life. One third of these are Grade I listed and as such they form a vital part of England’s built heritage."

"The Taylor Review puts forward sensible and achievable recommendations to help create a sustainable future for these buildings. These include finding ways to ensure that more church buildings can be opened up for wider community use and helping to provide more strategic oversight of maintenance and repair works."

 "Funding for the repair and maintenance of church buildings relies on a partnership between Government, statutory heritage organisations, religious denominations, local communities and charities such as the National Churches Trust. We therefore welcome the Review’s acknowledgement that government investment in the maintenance of the architectural heritage of the Church of England will still be required in the future. The National Churches Trust will work closely with our partners in the church heritage sector to help in the implementation of  the review’s key recommendations and in particular in the testing of pilot programmes before they can be rolled out nationally."

 "In addition, over the coming years with the help of our Friends and supporters, our grants schemes will continue to help fund essential repairs and the introduction of community facilities.  Our new MaintenanceBooker service, which will be rolled out throughout England in 2018, will make it easier for churches to care for their buildings. We will also expand our ExploreChurches website, which will make it easier for people to visit churches and discover their history and heritage."

The report’s key recommendations are:

  • Enhancing and resourcing community use and care of church buildings

1. A national network of Community Support Advisers (CSAs) should be put in place to build cross-community relationships and promote wider and more mixed use of church buildings.

2. The Church of England should continue its work to simplify church buildings’ management through the Faculty System. This work should prioritise elements relating to adaptations to allow the building to remain in use both as a place of worship and a community resource and seek to harmonise the process across all dioceses.

3. The law should be clarified, whether through legislative change or the issue of guidance, to establish that local authorities are not prohibited from awarding funding to churches.

  • Supporting the good care and timely maintenance of buildings

4. A network of Fabric Support Officers (FSOs) should be implemented. This network will provide churches with access to skills and resources including maintenance assessment, building management and maintenance and the ability to guide PCCs as to how to prioritise and fund works.

5. Repairs should be funded as much as possible locally, with the aim of this proportion increasing as, through the work of the CSAs, communities become more engaged. Any balance (to ensure timely execution of works) should come from a Minor Repairs Fund, to be administered on the advice of FSOs.

6. FSOs should visit each listed church building within their area of responsibility regularly (expected to be annually) and develop a Minor Repairs Plan, to be updated regularly, and a rolling ten-year Major Repairs Plan. A review of these plans by church architects or surveyors every five years should be carried out as part of a Quinquennial Inspection.

7. The PCC of each church, as the body corporate with responsibility for the building fabric, should nominate a named individual to act on its behalf in taking forward routine maintenance and repairs and to be the key point of contact for the Fabric Support Officer.

8. Planned major repairs (long term maintenance) should be financed principally by local fundraising and topped up where proven necessary from a Major Repairs Fund.

9. The Panel considers that a nationally administered fund for works to keep cathedrals safe and open, similar to the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund, should be considered as a separate exercise.

10. At least two pilot studies, covering both urban and rural contexts, should be conducted to test and develop the recommendations of this report.

 As regards future Government funding levels, the report says:

 The Panel recognises that Government funding levels are neither set in stone nor the current levels (up to £42m per year through the Listed Places of Worship scheme) guaranteed beyond 2020. The Panel has agreed that the proposed pilot schemes will enable a more accurate picture of appropriate funding levels and distribution methods to be developed, as well as refining the correct split between the two funds and the funding of posts.

The table below is illustrative and shows what the split of Government funding levels to each recommended funding stream beyond 2020 might be. The total funding amount in this illustration is £66m, which represents a median point between average annual funding levels between 2014-16 (around £90m annually) and levels over the next two years when only the Listed Places of Worship scheme will be available (£42m annually).

 Funding Stream Funding Level

  • Major Repairs Fund £36m per annum
  • Minor Repairs Fund £15m per annum
  • Network of CSAs and FSOs £15m per annum