We have recently concluded a major review of the London Diocesan Fund’s (LDF’s) property function, led by independent consultants and overseen by external experts on the Property Advisory Group. As lots of you will know, it included a far-reaching exercise to gather the views of clergy, staff, and others – huge thanks to all of you who shared your views and insights with us. The review is a thorough and encouraging piece of work, both in terms of what has been achieved so far and the potential for further improvements. It focused on three areas: clergy housing, support for the management and development of parish property, and investment income.
Metal theft is a significant and increasing problem in the UK.
Historically the scrap metal trade has been a cash in hand industry; which creates difficulties as there is no audit trail, making identification of individuals who may be trading stolen metal or who may be committing tax or benefits fraud, a difficult proposition.
An amendment to the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964 to prohibit cash transactions would make payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory and would be a significant component in reducing metal theft.
To show your support for this amendment, sign the petition.
Due to a significant rise in value, metal has become a much sought after commodity. This increased demand has resulted in a sharp rise in metal theft nationally. Metal fencing, gates, manhole covers and other metallic items are stolen on a regular basis. Property is raided for lead, copper and cabling. War memorials and statues have been taken. Overhead power lines are stolen at serious risk to personal safety with huge costs for replacement and major inconvenience to the public. Historically the scrap metal trade has been a cash in hand industry. This creates difficulties as there is no audit trail, making identification of individuals who may be trading stolen metal or who may be committing tax or benefits fraud, a difficult proposition. An amendment to the Scrap Metal Merchants Act 1964 to prohibit cash transactions would make payment by cheque or directly into a bank account mandatory and would be a significant component in reducing metal theft.
We have received the following advice from Ecclesiastical Insurance: [Read more...]
New guidelines have been issued to assist PCCs in deciding who may use their property.
The Archdeacon of Northolt explains:
A few recent experiences in the diocese have highlighted the need for every PCC to take great care when approached by Christian groups and independent churches wishing to hire church halls for worship, fellowship meetings or bible study.
It is important that we continue to develop good relationships with other churches whilst not giving any foothold to those groups which bring others into disrepute.
The full advice is available at www.london.anglican.org/regulations/church-halls-christian-groups.
We have received the following information from Ecclesiastical:
You will no doubt be aware that the Government have announced that with effect from 4 January 2011 the rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) will increase from 17.5% to 20%. This will impact on the sums insured for Church buildings as repairs are subject to VAT, and current sums insured, make provision for VAT at the current rate.
At Ecclesiastical we are very conscious of the difficult financial position that many parishes find themselves in and also the wider implications for the financial wellbeing of the Church of England.
Whilst we at Ecclesiastical are not in any way immune from such pressures ourselves because of our unique understanding of the Church of England we are keen to assist wherever possible. We are therefore proposing to increase the sums insured for all church buildings, currently in use for worship, to reflect the new level of VAT, from 4 January 2011 without any charge.
I hope that this will be of real benefit to parishes and also the wider Church of England. I would however stress that this action in no way sets a precedent should the Government make further increases in VAT or similar taxes that impact upon church insurances.
For churches in the Channel Islands VAT does not apply and for those churches that have elected to remove VAT from their sums insured, then there will be no increase.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if any further clarification is required.
With best wishes,
Head of Business Relationship Management
Direct Insurance Operations
Tel Number: 0845 777 3322
Direct Tel: 01452 875860
Email: Michael.Angell (Email: Michael.Angell [at] ecclesiastical.com)
Not-for-profit groups will be able to apply for sums of between £100,000 and £500,000 each from the BLF’s Reaching Communities programme from early December.
A BLF spokeswoman said funding would be available for “all types of multi-purpose buildings used by communities, including memorial halls, community centres and village halls”.
Each project should have a total value of no more than £750,000. Applications will be assessed on a monthly rolling basis. Organisations can register for further information by calling 0845 410 2030.
We have been assured that as with the 2008 Community Buildings Programme, faith groups will be eligible as long as they meet the criteria.
For more information read the attached press release. There should be some ‘Question and Answer’ information up on the Reaching Communities pages of the Big Lottery website.
The Bishop of London sent out the following announcement today:
Future of the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme
Nearly everyone accepts that the scale of Government borrowing is unsustainable and that some cuts have been necessary. Individuals and organisations will be considering the impact of yesterday’s announcements and today’s more detailed account of the implications. [Read more...]
Even though the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme is changing there is some good news that it is still possible to apply for fabric Wolfson Grants.
Under an agreement with the Wolfson Foundation, the Church Buildings Council administers, on their behalf, applications for grant aid towards fabric repairs to Anglican Churches. Applications for grants are considered on the grounds of the architectural and historic importance of this building, urgency of work required and the ability of the church to contribute financially to the scheme. [Read more...]
This scheme, which enables Listed churches to reclaim the VAT element of repairs, is under review as part of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.
In anticipation of a decision on the long-term future of the LPWGS next April, the DCMS has announced interim cuts to take place from the beginning of next year.
From 4 January to 31 March 2011, it will no longer be possible to recover VAT on professional fees for works and repair works to organs, bells, clocks and pews undertaken in that time period.
All parishes currently undertaking projects eligible under the present criteria are urged to complete their LPWGS claims as soon as possible.
The Church of England issued a statement yesterday in response to the announcement.
Following two fires in churches, London Fire Brigade is undertaking inspections on all churches throughout the Diocese. In 2006 the Care of Churches Team sent a pack to every parish outlining the responsibilities of incumbents and PCCs with regard to the new fire regulations then being introduced. Some inspections have taken place already, and enforcement notices have been issued with regard to matters such as signage, lighting, alarms and inadequate fire safety audits. In one case a cap has been put on the numbers that can use the building, causing considerable problems for the parish concerned.
The Care of Churches Team has arranged for the Fire Brigade to come to Diocesan House to offer free training sessions to those responsible for fire safety in churches in this Diocese. Churchwardens have already been sent an email about this.
The courses will be run by the Commercial Training Unit of London Fire Brigade. They have kindly offered to do this for free.
Places are limited so please book early.
This major source of funding is due to end on 31st March 2011. The Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme (LPWGS) enables listed places of worship to claim back 100% of VAT incurred on repairs and maintenance to the building, professional fees and repair works to fixtures such as bells and organs.
The LPWGS has provided great relief to places of worship faced with raising enormous sums for maintenance and repair, and has enabled those who look after these valuable heritage and community buildings to maintain them for future generations.
The Scheme was introduced in April 2001 and to date has paid out over £100 million to places of worship across the United Kingdom.
The scheme is due to come to an end on 31st March 2011.
Please support the campaign to extend the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme, beyond March 2011 by signing the petition at http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/VAT-refundscheme/.