Norfolk churches could lose tax concession
A 20-year tax “concession” to help meet repair costs of places of worship could be lost from April, a leading Norfolk church conservation charity has warned.
Norfolk Churches Trust is urging the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to continue the successful VAT relief scheme (the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme), which was introduced in 2001.
Scrapping the listed places of worship grant scheme could add at least £2.25m to the £11m cost of repairing 47 Norfolk churches identified as most at risk. For many parishes across Norfolk, struggling to raise funds for essential repairs, a 20% hike in costs could prove the final straw, according to the Norfolk Churches Trust. Already some churches have halted repair projects as at the landmark, grade I listed North Tuddenham, because of a potential £76,000 additional VAT bill to keep the tower standing.
General the Lord Dannatt, President of the NCT, is extremely concerned at the potential consequences if the VAT relief scheme was ended. “We have hundreds of churches in the county – and the most medieval churches in western Europe,” he said. “This VAT relief has helped to maintain our precious heritage of churches and for future generations to appreciate. I would urge the Chancellor to help parishes maintain churches and our national heritage,” said Lord Dannatt.
Michael Sayer, chairman of the Trust’s grants’ committee, was worried that ending VAT relief for repairs could hit fund-raising efforts and lower morale in parishes. “Repairing the tower of St Mary’s, North Tuddenham, will cost about £461,000. Adding 20% VAT would add £76,000,” he said. For a parish with a population of 334, it could be extremely difficult to raise this extra amount.
This article, by Michael Pollitt was first published in the EDP and the Norfolk Churches Trust website
Pictured above is St Mary’s, North Tuddenham. Picture from Historic England.