Andrew Selous MP, representing the Church Commissioners, gave the following written answers to questions from an MP on 30th September 2022:
Dr Matthew Offord MP (Con): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, what recent discussions he has had with the Church Commissioners about repair and renewal of the church estate.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): The Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council have agreed to 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 and 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.”
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)).
Dr Matthew Offord MP (Con): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, whether he has had discussions with the Church Commissioner’s about preventing vandalism on the church estate.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): Acts of Vandalism towards Church property cause distress and great inconvenience to clergy and volunteers who work hard to keep churches accessible and in good repair. For churches suffering anti-social behaviour, guidance is available here: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/churchcare/advice-and-guidance-church-buildings/anti-social-behaviour-churchyards(opens in a new tab)
General advice given to parishes is that opening the building and increasing footfall into and around the Church can help.
Thefts of metal and architectural stone from church property are of additional concern, and although the number of incidents is low compared to the height of metal theft in 2017-18, the severity of the incidents indicates that this is now part of serious organised crime. Advice is available at:https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/churchcare/advice-and-guidance-church-buildings/crime-and-security-prevention(opens in a new tab)
The Church is grateful to the Home Office for its continued support to all places of worship threatened by hate crime through the protective security scheme.
Further advice is available from the Cathedrals and Church Buildings Department of the National Church Institutions: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/churchcare
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