Trust welcomes extension to VAT tax concession
Norfolk Churches Trust has warmly welcomed an extension to a VAT tax concession until March 2022.
There had been growing fears that the 20-year VAT relief under the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme would end on March 31. Peter Sheppard, chairman of the Norfolk Churches Trust, said that the one-year extension was welcome news. “This is great news for churches, and I know that those facing major repairs will be relieved,” he added.
The Round Tower Churches Society had also voiced concern because it would have added to the cost of repairs and conservation. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who will present his Budget on March 3, had been asked to extend the VAT relief.
The Norfolk Churches Trust had contacted Norfolk MPs in December seeking support for the scheme to continue. It had been started by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2001.
Lord Dannatt, who is the trust’s chairman, also told the EDP: “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,” he added.
Michael Sayer, chairman of the trust’s grants committee, said that it should now enable some major church repair schemes to go ahead. “I think it is fair to say that we would really appreciate more long-term certainty about the scheme, but the one-year extension is welcome,” he added.
The grant scheme, which is funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, was worth about £42m in 2020.
The Trust, which gave £102,000 towards repairs of 36 places of worship in 2020, helped 41 churches in 2019 with £171,825 of grants.
Mr Sayer added: “Repairing the tower of St Mary’s, North Tuddenham, will cost about £461,000. Adding 20% VAT would add £76,000.”
The trust has identified 47 churches on its anxiety list, which includes about 15 Norfolk churches on Heritage England’s official at risk register. It calculates the total repair cost at around £12m – and loss of VAT relief would add £2.4m.
Since 1976, when it was founded, it has raised more than £6.5m to safeguard religious buildings of all denominations across the county.
Pictured above is St Mary's North Tuddenham