20 January 2010
The Church of England has welcomed a recommendation from the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts that cathedrals should receive direct funding from Government. The recommendation, contained in the Committee's newly-published report on Promoting Participation with the Historic Environment, states:
"English cathedrals represent some of our most important architectural heritage yet many of them charge the public for entry. These buildings are expensive to look after and the Department and English Heritage should work together to find ways to fund their conservation so that they can be less reliant on charging for entry, which could deter people from visiting."
Janet Gough, Director of the Cathedral and Church Buildings Division of the Archbishops' Council, welcomed the recommendation from the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts. She said: “Parliament is recognizing the huge amount of work needed to look after our cathedrals. This work is highlighted in the Cathedrals Fabric Commission's Annual Review 2008 and in English Heritage's Creativity and Care: New Works in English Cathedrals published last month.”
The Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Chairman of the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, said: "This is the first time Parliament has asked the Government for some direct funding for cathedrals.
“At last Parliament sees the importance of cathedrals in earning money for this country, in expanding local employment and above all as part of the face we wish to show to the world.
"Maintenance is not the only or even the principal matter, when it comes to cathedrals charging for entry. The charges are largely devoted to meeting the costs that arise from presenting the buildings to the public, such as stewarding and special exhibits.”
The Very Revd Vivienne Faull, Dean of Leicester and Chairman of the Association of English Cathedrals, also welcomed the Committee’s recommendation.
She said: “Cathedrals are delighted that their role in the nation’s life is recognized by the Committee. Cathedrals are iconic buildings of significance to the heritage and culture of the areas they serve. They play an important role, providing facilities that enable communities to gather and mark events of national and local importance.
“Maintaining and running cathedrals is a continuing financial challenge for the few charged with their care for the benefit of all.”
The full report can be viewed at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmpubacc/189/189.pdf. The recommendation is on page 6.
The Church of England is responsible for 42 cathedrals.
In its Cathedrals Fabric Survey 2009, English Heritage identified £100 million of repair work as being necessary within the next ten years. Half of this is at five cathedrals where the on-going challenges of the scale and complexity of the buildings demand major repair programmes spread over many years. The money for repairs is additional to the normal running costs of cathedrals.