On Wednesday 17 December 2014, the Second Church Estates Commissioners, the Rt Hon. Sir Tony Baldry MP, answered written questions from Robin Walker MP about grants available for church repairs, and from Chi Onwurah MP about the savings being made from the new Parliamentary Q&A system.
Mr Robin Walker: To ask the right hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, what grants the Church Commissioners have given to churches in (a) Worcester and (b) Worcestershire from the church roof repair fund in the last four years.
Sir Tony Baldry: The Church Commissioners are grateful to the Treasury for making the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund available to its Cathedrals alongside extending the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme to include repairs to church roofs and rain water guttering.
(a) The Cathedral at Worcester has received a total of £330,000 toward to costs of restoring its east window and to replace and weather-proof the ceiling & roof of the cathedral’s ancient library. The Cathedral successfully entered the bids for funding in rounds 1 and 2 of the First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund which has so far assisted 32 of the Church of England’s Cathedrals. There is one final round to which Cathedrals both Anglican and Catholic can enter bids before the fund closes, the Church Commissioners hope the last few Cathedrals with substantial works pending who are yet to submit a bid will consider putting applications forward.
(b) The fund which the Chancellor has made available within the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund has only been available since the 2014 Autumn Statement, no funding or grants for roof repairs have been available centrally prior to this. The Roof Repair Fund is not administered by the Church of England but by the National Heritage Memorial Fund, who will make decisions on grants given.
The Church of England has advised all Diocesan Advisory Commissions (who assist Parishes with advice on repairs and alterations to architecture and fabric of buildings) to encourage and assist with applications to the fund which closes on the 30th January 2015. From the Diocese of Worcester the Church of England understands 24 parish churches will apply, 7 parishes are currently on the English Heritage, ‘Heritage at Risk Register’ with a further 17 parishes in urgent need. These figures are based on initial responses, rather than formal expressions of interest. Not all parishes will be successful in their bids for assistance and each case will be judged on its merits. This fund like the WW1 Cathedrals Fund will enable the parishes to invest money into their wider community helping those in greatest need rather than spending money just keeping the building watertight.
Sir Tony Baldry: For an organisation that thinks in the eternal, any time saving is transitory.