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Churches welcome Budget help for listed church buildings

The Church of England and other UK faith groups represented by the Churches Main Committee, welcomed the Budget announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, that the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme will be expanded to allowed a full VAT refund of 17.5% on all eligible applications for work carried out on listed church buildings from 1st April 2004 forward.

Commenting on the Budget announcement, the Chairman of the Churches Main Committee, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Jonathan Bailey said: "As Chairman of the Churches Main Committee, I welcome the Chancellor's announcement that, with effect form 1 April, the full 17.5% VAT on repair and maintenance of listed places of worship will be recoverable under the Grant Scheme, which already permits recovery of VAT up to 12.5%. Many historic churches, synagogues and other places of worship throughout the United Kingdom will be grateful for this further recognition of their value. At the same time, we are glad to recognise that the Government continue to press through the European Union for an actual reduction in the VAT rate and we fully support them in their efforts".

All applications, regardless of submission date, for works carried out prior to 1st April 2004 will be awarded the current refund of 12.5%. The Scheme administrators, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, have advised that the existing eligibility criteria for the Scheme remain unaltered although the Scheme website, form and guidance notes will be altered to reflect the new arrangements. The Chancellor has confirmed that the Scheme is planned to run until March 2006. The Government's objective continues to be a reduced rate of VAT as distinct from a refund scheme and the matter has yet to be resolved at EU level. UK Churches will continue to support the Government's actions to implement a reduced rate.

Notes

a) 13,000 listed churches belong to the Church of England of which 3,000 are listed Grade I.
b) In 2001 Church of England churches spent £86 million on major repairs.
c) The Churches Main Committee is the body with Christian and Jewish representation which communicates with the Government on proposals for legislation etc.
d) Since the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme was first launched in 2001, around 4,500 churches and other listed places of worship have benefited from the Scheme.