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World News

MP urges government to step in to help repair parish churches

by Donna Birrell

An MP is calling on the Government to step in to help repair and maintain parish churches.

In a written parliamentary question, Alex Stafford, Conservative MP for Rother Valley said the cost of repairs will only increase if left unaddressed.

He told the PA news agency: "I have a lot of churches in my constituency which are not in a good state of repair.

"I think the UK is very blessed with beautiful churches and a great heritage and history and we have a duty to keep them and restore them and make sure they are maintained.

"It's worrying there's this huge shortfall between how much is needed every year - so £200 million - and how much churches are actually putting into it.

"And that problem is going to increase. If we don't get these repairs now, they get worse and worse and worse, and the churches get worse and worse and worse.

"I very much believe the Government needs to protect them because they are the history of our country. They have been there, many of them, for hundreds of years, we need to maintain that link from the past.

"To me this is not necessarily about religion, it's about our history. But I think the biggest issue we have had recently is Covid, which has completely hammered churches' finances because they haven't been able to raise that money for repairs. They do need and rely more now than ever on Government support to step in and fill that shortfall.

"I think the Government should step in. And whether it's funding all of it, or at least part funding it, or trying a new funding model to help the churches do their repairs, because if we don't, it's £1 billion now for the next five years, but it's going to be worse if you don't do those repairs."

In response, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, the MP Andrew Selous who represents the Church of England in parliament, said :

"At best parishes currently raise and spend approximately half of that annually, so there remains a significant and growing maintenance deficit on these beautiful and treasured buildings." 

The Church of England says the cost of "necessary" repairs across its 16,000 parish churches is estimated at £1 billion over the next five years.

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