The shadow faiths minister has asked the Government if they will provide extra funding to churches who've suffered financial loss during coroanvirus lockdown.
Janet Daby, the Labour MP for Lewisham East, told Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick that it was estimated that faith groups are providing more than 10 million meals a month to people who would otherwise go hungry but were simultaneously not getting cash from weekly donations or hiring out their buildings.
The shadow minister for faiths added: "they are running out of money and in desperate need of financial assistance. Can the minister tell me what assessment his Government has made of the financial hit to places of worship and why they haven't provided ring-fenced support to ensure they can continue their very much needed work?"
The Conservative minister replied: "Well, I pay tribute to the work of faith groups across the country. I've been meeting with faith leaders from all the major religions regularly through our Places of Worship Task Force, and I'm extremely grateful for the hard work of that organisation that has helped us to reopen place of worship safely. I am aware of the financial impact that the pandemic has had on many places of worship and faith organisations. The schemes created by the chancellor for charities were open to those from faith organisations and many have taken part."
The minister was referring to the fact that churches have been eligible for Government schemes, such as the furlough scheme for staff, or could apply for a chunk of the funding awarded to charities who are helping with the affects of coronavirus.
For example, £360m from government departments was pledged to charities in England according to evidence-based need and £310m was pledged for smaller groups working with vulnerable people in England, some of which would have been given to churches.
£60m was pledged to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to support charities on the frontline helping vulnerable people affected by Covid-19.
The Government details on funding can be found here.
Before the debate, Daby told Premier Christian News she thinks there needs to be a more engaged approach with faith communities: "What I'm hearing is that many places of worship would 1) like to be trusted a bit more and 2) need financial support - because actually a lot of places of faith haven't received their usual weekly contributions and donations and for many places where they do have buildings they've lost finances, because they haven't been able to hire out their premises because the weddings things aren't taking place, the parties and so on.
"So, there's a lot of financial loss there. I know that faith leaders would like to have a conversation about any financial support that's open to them and also more in depth conversations as to what it will look like for reopening places of worship."