Hereford & Worcester

VAT change may harm churches, says Diocese of Hereford

Churches could fall into disrepair because of plans to impose VAT on repair costs, the Diocese of Hereford has said.

VAT relief on approved changes to listed buildings is to be removed from October.

Government grants for repairs for places of worship will now be extended to cover alterations too.

A diocese spokeswoman said parishioners might struggle to raise enough money to cover the extra costs.

Wendy Coombey, community partnership and funding officer for the diocese, said: "We're working with at least 15 to 20 parish projects who have spent a long time developing their church buildings for wider use.

'Step too far'

"It's all for new works within the building and overnight an extra 20% has been added to the project costs."

She said the diocese looked after about 420 buildings across Herefordshire, south Shropshire, Worcestershire and parts of Wales, of which most are Grade I or II listed.

She added: "Our church communities are extraordinarily resilient. They already care for very important, very expensive heritage buildings.

"We've worked really hard on trying to find a way to keep our buildings open and sustainable and get more of a community stake in the building.

"We've managed to be able to find some funding but I think for many of them this is just going to be a step too far."

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