Church Commissioners written question – answered on 17th November 2020.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

To ask the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Commissioners have made of (a) trends in the level of closure of churches and (b) the ability of worshipping communities to fund ongoing repairs to church buildings.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The details of individual parish finances is not generally a matter for the Church Commissioners, though other parts of the National Church Institutions and dioceses have been keeping planned giving and donations under careful review. Churches that have a solid foundation of regular giving through direct debit or standing order appear to be withstanding the pandemic much better than those whose finances were more reliant on church hall income, fundraising events, visitor donations and cash in the offertory plate. During the first national lockdown whilst some parishes saw a substantial drop off in donations others have embraced new technology using digital giving, and social media and, when Church buildings are open, contactless giving.

Although there has been a significant reduction in parish payments to dioceses to fund ministry costs, this has been less than anticipated at the start of the national lockdown, in part boosted by use of reserves as well as the generosity of givers. We grateful to the Government for allocating over £30million from the Culture Recovery Fund to support major churches and cathedrals. The Church Commissioners have also made significant funds available where possible to support music, essential craft and tradespeople alongside sustainability funding and salary support for cathedrals. The continuation of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme is also important for the future funding of repairs to church buildings and the Archbishops’ Council have made representations to the Treasury about this.

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