The Church of England's representative in parliament has confirmed that some of the £300 million dedicated to 'Levelling-up' town centres will be going to churches and cathedrals.
In the House of Commons, Andrew Selous MP told MPs during Church Commissioners' Questions that churches have been included as part of the Government's plan to reinvigorate high streets and community spirit.
He was prompted by a question from church-goer and Lib Dem Munira Wilson MP, who asked: "how much the Church of England administered in grants to churches for the purpose of restoration in the last financial year. "
Andrew Selous, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, answered: "The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England has administered £10 million of the Government's culture recovery funding to 68 churches and cathedrals and about £250,000 in conservation grants.
"The £300 million additional funding announced yesterday is very welcome, as is the fact that the levelling-up fund specifically includes churches and cathedrals. The national Church does not routinely fund capital works, but it does liaise closely with a wide network of funders who provide support for parish churches and cathedrals."
The budget, released on Wednesday, states: "The Levelling Up Fund will invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK, including town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects, and cultural and heritage assets. The prospectus will provide guidance to local areas on the process for submitting bids, the types of projects eligible for funding, and how bids will be assessed. To ensure that funding reaches the places most in need, the government has identified priority places based on an index of local need to receive capacity funding to help them co-ordinate their applications."
The Government wants to encourage the development of rural and coastal town centres, clean energy projects and cultural attractions such as museums, sports venues and heritage sites.
This was also acknowledged and appreciated by the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart, Convenor of the Bishops in the House of Lords, who said: "The £300m additional funding for the Culture Recovery Fund is very welcome and will support the many small businesses and independent contractors our churches employ and support.
"I also note that the Levelling Up Fund prospectus specifically mentions cultural and heritage assets, including churches, and we look forward to churches and cathedrals particularly in areas of high deprivation taking part in this programme."
Munira Wilson question was prompted by concern for a church in her own constituency, St Michael's church in Fulwell, which is has no formal heating or lighting. The team have raised over £1.5 million, but need a further £230,000 to make the church functional.
Mr Selous responded: "I am delighted to learn about the growing congregation and all the good work happening at St Michael's Fulwell. The commissioners provide strategic development funding to the Church nationally in order to support major change projects that will make a significant difference to mission and financial strength across dioceses. In addition to the culture recovery fund, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has recently launched a new set of funding priorities to support Covid-19 recovery and is open to applications now."
To apply for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, click here.