Letters: VAT exemption for church repairs

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The Independent Online
Sir: As a parish priest with four historic churches in my care and a love of our cathedrals, particularly my own 'Mother' church, York Minster, I too share in the rejoicing over the extension of the Cathedrals Grants Scheme operated by English Heritage (Letters, 4 January). However, I would caution against too much gratitude to the state, it is hardly a present from Santa.

I would think that the pounds 4m funding could be recouped from the value-added tax paid out by churches such as my own on building work and the actual work carried out on the cathedrals in any grant year - 17.5 per cent of the pounds 4m itself will go straight back to the Exchequer.

Government has to manage our funds largely according to the will of the people. I would like to see less critical interest in the failure of the Church of England to perform according to the changing interests and habits of our people and more recognition that we try in cathedrals and parish churches to maintain not only our wonderful heritage of spiritual homes but also places of living witness and worship available to all. Financial pressure is forcing local Diocese and Deaneries to consider reducing manpower.

We would be greatly encouraged were folk to encourage the Government to remove the burden of VAT from church repairs. In my parish alone we have raised and paid pounds 30,000 these past few years.

There is still a popular misconception that local vicars and churches are 'on the rates'. Unlike some other European countries, we receive no state subsidy - how about a church tax now that we are in the single market?

Yours faithfully,

ALAN HUGHES

Vicar of Kirkbymoorside

with Farndale Gillamoor

and Bransdale

Kirkbymoorside

North Yorkshire

4 January

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