The Church of England has welcomed the news that the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme, which reimburses VAT on repairs to listed places of worship, will continue.
The Church had feared that cuts might take an estimated £1 million a month out of its coffers.
But despite drastic cuts to the Department for Culture Media and Sport's budget of 24 per cent, the department announced today that the Church of England would still get grants for its buildings.
The British Film Institute, English Heritage and the Royal Parks all lost out, with the arts Council facing a funding cut of 29.6 per cent
In a statement issued just a few hours after George Osborne's announcement of the cuts in public spending which will see an estimated 490,000 public sector workers lose their jobs, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Chair of the Church Heritage Forum, said: “I am very glad that the Department for Culture Media and Sport has announced that the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme will continue. Abandoning the scheme, which affects every part of the United Kingdom, would have been tantamount to a tax on fundraising; a great disincentive to the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who care for our churches and a blow to the credibility of the concept of the Big Society.
“While I regret that the additional concessions on professional fees, organs and bells, secured in 2006 and already withdrawn, will not be reinstated, I very much welcome the Government’s recognition that church buildings make a large contribution to the community as a whole.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have campaigned tirelessly within the Church of England for the scheme to be maintained and also to the Heritage Minister for his informed concern and determination to find a solution which balances economic necessity with a recognition of the role and potential of our church buildings.”
The Church of England has so far issued no other statement following the spending review. However in a statement yesterday, the President of the Methodist Conference in Britain said the government's cuts strategy should be judged primarily on how it impacts upon the poorest in society.