Churches: Repairs and Maintenance

Church Commissioners written question – answered at on 12 September 2023.

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Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what the Church of England's estimate is of the capital cost of outstanding repairs for parish churches.

Photo of Rupa Huq Rupa Huq Labour, Ealing Central and Acton

To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what the Church of England's estimate is of the capital cost of outstanding repairs for parish churches in each diocese.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The National Church Institutions do not hold statistics on outstanding repairs for parish churches, collectively or by diocese.

The Church Commissioners and Archbishops' Council have agreed funding of £11 million for 2023-25 in support of Buildings for Mission, which includes £2m for places of worship maintenance/repairs, and funding for up to 20 support officers to work with communities on the care of their church buildings. This is alongside a one-off commitment of £190 million (over nine years) to support the whole Church, including its buildings, in the transition towards Net Zero 2030.

12,500 church buildings are listed, with 45% of all England's Grade I listed buildings being cathedrals and churches. The average annual cost for the maintenance and repairs to parish churches alone is estimated at £150 million, and the maintenance of our churches across the country is mostly financed by generous local donors and volunteers. Support and advice, including on available grants, is available from ChurchCare: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/churchcare(opens in a new tab)

The Church remains grateful for the continuation of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme as it was for the Culture Recovery Fund. Money invested in church buildings has positive benefits to the wider community: the 2021 House of Good report by the National Churches Trust (https://www.houseofgood.nationalchurchestrust.org/(opens in a new tab)) found that "the annual social and economic value of church buildings to the UK is worth around £55 billion. This sum, calculated using the latest HM Treasury Green Book guidance, includes the contribution churches make to wellbeing and to local economies."

By means of an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill in the House of Lords, the Government has recently agreed to make it clear that churches are legally able to access Local Authority grant funding. This clarification is very welcome and comes in response to many years of advocacy by church, heritage and Local Authority groups. The removal of ambiguity means that Local Authorities and parish councils in England will enable seed funding to repair, restore and upgrade facilities, helping churches to continue to serve their local communities as worship spaces, community hubs, and through social action projects.

The Church is committed to engaging with the Government on the implementation of the recommendations of the 2017 Taylor Review into the sustainability of church buildings (The Taylor Review: Sustainability of English Churches and Cathedrals - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)(opens in a new tab))

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