16 March 2005
1. The Church of England has warmly welcomed the Budget announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, to extend for a further three years until 2008 the 100 per cent VAT refund for renovation of Listed church buildings and to give the same refund to the construction and repair of memorials.
Responding to the welcome news, Alexander Nicoll, representing the Church of England VAT Group, said, “Church of England parishes up and down the country and indeed all UK faith groups with Listed buildings to maintain will welcome the announced extension of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme.”
2. Today’s budget announcement will have a positive impact on education and training, said the Church of England.
One quarter of all primary schools in England are Church of England schools. Canon John Hall, the Church of England’s Chief Education Officer said, “We had been concerned that the government’s strong emphasis on rebuilding secondary schools would leave primary schools as the poor relations. So the announcement that £9.4 billion will be spent on rebuilding or refurbishing primary schools in England over the next five years is particularly welcome.”
Over the next five years, the governors of Church of England voluntary aided primary schools will spend £23 million per year to fund their element of these costs. Canon Hall said, “Church primary schools are well supported by their communities and this challenge will not be too great for them. Already, the Church of England and Roman Catholic communities between them contribute over £30 million a year towards the capital costs of church schools. This is a saving to the Exchequer.”
Canon Hall also welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of capital funding for Further Education colleges and additional funding for education maintenance allowances and children’s benefits. “The Tomlinson report aimed to raise the status of non-academic post 16 education and training. The budget will help increase the number of learners who stay on post 16 and improve the quality of their experience. So it will help young people fulfil their potential.”