To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what (a) guidance and (b) financial support is available to help places of worship safely resume their activities after the covid-19 situation.
We have published guidance for the safe use of places of worship during the pandemic. This includes guidance to assist places of worship to prepare to reopen for individual prayer from 13 June in a manner that is safe and in line with social distancing guidelines.
We will continue to review when it might be safe to ease other restrictions on places of worship, including for communal prayer. This is subject to the five tests for easing measures and further detailed scientific advice. We expect that places of worship will not be permitted to open for communal prayer until 4 July at the earliest.
MHCLG continues to play a facilitative role in ensuring Government understands how it can support faith groups to respond to the pressures they face during this period and throughout the Government's recovery strategy.
There are a range of Government-backed financial support measures that places of worship can access.
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Scheme are both available to registered charities, and therefore places of worship registered with the Charities Commission. Any organisation, including a place of worship, that is unable to pay any HMRC bill due to COVID-19 should contact the HMRC Coronavirus helpline. If charities or places of worship are VAT registered, they are also able to use the VAT deferral scheme.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme provides support for any entity with a UK payroll - small or large, charitable or non-profit - to be reimbursed 80 per cent of furloughed worker wages by HMRC, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
However, we know that some charities cannot furlough staff as they are contributing to the frontline response. There is a substantial package of targeted support for charities on the frontline of responding to COVID-19. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-support-for-voluntary-community-and-social-enterprise-vcse-organisations-to-respond-to-coronavirus-covid-19#further-financial-support.