Welcome news on three-year extension on church repair scheme

A three-year extension of a VAT concession on church repairs to March 2025 has been warmly welcomed.

The Round Tower Churches Society and Norfolk Churches Trust contacted MPs to highlight the urgent need for an extension to the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme.

The concession, which enables the VAT element to be reclaimed, was only extended last year to March 31. As a result, churches would have been liable for the entire VAT element unless the scheme was extended.

In a letter, dated January 20, 2022 to North West Norfolk MP James Wild, the Minister for Heritage confirmed the three-year extension.

Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society, wrote: “I am delighted to be able to confirm continued funding for the LPoW grant scheme which has been extended until 31 March 2025. I do hope that this will provide the assurance required to plan necessary works to help keep these important and valued buildings alive for their communities.£

The Society’s secretary ‘Lyn Stilgoe contacted her local MP, Mr Wild, who raised the issue with the Heritage Minister. He replied on Friday, January 21: “It is clearly very welcome news that continued funding for the LPoW grant scheme has been extended until 31 March 2025.”

 Michael Pollitt, vice-chairman, also wrote to Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Breckland MP George Freeman, raising the Society’s concerns.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, also raised the Society’s plea for the VAT extension, in a reply to membership secretary Nick Wiggin’s letter.

Michael Sayer, chairman of the Norfolk Churches Trust’s grants’ committee, welcomed the recent announcement. “It is great news,” he added.

Conservation groups and charities had voiced concern at the impact of the loss of the VAT concession, which would have put at risk major repairs to churches. But the three-year extension now enables larger projects to be carried out with more certainty.

Churches including Mutford, which faces a large repair bill for work on the tower, can now plan with more confidence knowing that anxiety on the VAT element has been removed.