Big boost for church repair projects from VAT relief extension

James Wild MP

North West Norfolk MP James Wild - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

A three-year extension of a VAT concession on church repairs has been warmly welcomed in Norfolk.

The Round Tower Churches Society and Norfolk Churches Trust contacted MPs in the eastern region 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 on repairs and conservation works, 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 to North West Norfolk MP James Wild, heritage  minister Nigel Huddleston confirmed the three-year extension.

Visit East of England Executive Director Pete Waters and Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston on Mouseh

Visit East of England Executive Director Pete Waters and Tourism Minister Nigel Huddleston on Mousehold Heath, Norwich. Picture: Visit East of England - Credit: Visit East of England

He wrote: “I am delighted to be able to confirm continued funding for the LPoW grant scheme which has been extended until March 31, 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,” he added.

Most Read

The RTCS’s secretary 'Lyn Stilgoe contacted Mr Wild, who raised the issue with the heritage minister.

He replied saying: “It is clearly very welcome news that continued funding for the LPoW grant scheme has been extended until March 31, 2025.”

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman, who is the minister for science, research and innovation, wrote to the Society: “I have been raising this behind the scenes with the relevant ministers.”

And the extension of the VAT concession to all Listed Places of Worships for three years will now give some certainty, he added.

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 said.

The EDP also strongly supported an extension to this VAT concession in a powerful editorial on new year’s day 2021.

''Extremely positive outcome'

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.

A leading Norfolk architect Ruth Blackman, of Beeston-next-Mileham, who acts for dozens of churches in the county, said: “This is an extremely positive outcome.”

“It not only removes the financial risk to those current projects and those about to start, under stringent conditions from other grant aiding sources, but will be a tremendous incentive to continue to repair churches when those responsible have been recently facing ever diminishing grants from other organisations.”

The Round Tower Churches Society, which awarded more than £30,000 in grants for repair/conservation work in the past two years, is more confident that projects can be carried out.