Bishop calls for rethink on VAT on listed churches
Bishop John is joining voices throughout the Church of England pressing the Government to reconsider their budget proposals to impose 20% VAT on alterations to listed churches.
Of the Grade 1 listed buildings in England, 45% of the total are Church of England churches and most of them are medieval, which makes their maintenance, repair and alteration very expensive. Although churches do receive grants from English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery, much of the repair of these buildings relies on the voluntary giving by parishioners.
Bishop John said: "While it may be possible to argue for fairness in the application of VAT in the case of listed private dwellings, serious consequences to listed places of worship in the proposed VAT changes seem not to have been foreseen by the Government. A very large proportion of the alterations to church buildings are concerned with making them viable for use by the wider community by installing meeting rooms, lavatories and kitchens. This is the "Big Society" in action. I am quite sure that the imposition of 20% VAT will have a detrimental impact on this work across the Diocese of Worcester."
Castlemorton Church is faced with having to find another £9,000 or £10,000 for the VAT in order to install a lavatory and simple kitchenette in the rural church building, potentially adding another six months to their fundraising efforts. One of the churchwardens has written to say "... in terms of that national unit of currency for charitable fundraising, the JSE - the Jumble Sale Equivalent (conversion 1 JSE = £300 - £500) implies the need for the congregation to hold an additional 20 - 30 jumble sales. I am not sure that people will be well pleased to know that their voluntary efforts will now need to step up a gear just to pay this tax imposition. It is hardly very encouraging and, frankly, quite dispiriting to anyone concerned with maintaining what are, by definition of their listing, key parts of the national heritage..."
Bishop John is asking that VAT on alterations to listed places of worship remain zero rated and is encouraging as many people as possible to sign the Church of England's petition on this topic: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32229.
The Diocese of Worcester is one of 44 dioceses in the Church of England. It covers an area of 671 square miles and includes parishes in the County of Worcestershire, the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, and a few parishes in northern Gloucestershire, south east Wolverhampton and Sandwell.
From: Sam Setchell, Press Officer for the Diocese of Worcester and the Bishop of Worcester
Tel: 01905 20537 Mobile: 07852 302516 Fax: 01905 612302