Recent update from Historic Religious Buildings Alliance (HRBA)
Mid-March 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) confirmed in that the Grants for Places of Worship (GPOW) scheme would be closing. The HRBA provides regular updates through its monthly email newsletter, which it correctly describes as “an amazing mine of information“. Extracts from the July issue are reproduced below.
“Latest information about the closure of GPOW
A chronological list of new information added to this page. The date is the date at which the material was added.
17 July: The Church Buildings Council of the Church of England have made a statement criticising the decision by HLF to close GPOW (calling it ‘a grave mistake’). The latter statement also lays out ways in which the changes made by HLF might be mitigated, and asks for comment.
17 July: The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff, George Stack, has expressed concern about the closure of the GPOW scheme, both in a lecture reported in the Catholic Herald, and at greater length on the national Roman Catholic Church website.
17 July: Interesting article ‘Spotlight on churches’ by Marcus Binney looking back forty years to the famous exhibition Change and Decay: the future of our churches, and how GPOW and its predecessor grant schemes have greatly improved the condition and sustainability of church buildings and other places of worship since then. Includes commentary on the closure of GPOW. This article is part of Up my Street: Buildings at Risk, recently published by Save Britain’s Heritage, and is available for purchase. Reproduced by kind permission.
15 July: One page editorial about the closure of GPOW in the recently-published edition of Historic Churches. You can purchase or download for free the whole of Historic Churches, which is published annually by Cathedral Communications. Reproduced by kind permission.
28 June: Letters from Wales Heritage Group to Head of the HLF, Wales, and to the Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, National Assembly for Wales. The letters express concern about the closure of GPOW.
7 June: Email exchange with Historic England. We wrote to Historic England setting out some concerns emerging from recent correspondence. As part of this, we explained HRBA’s view that that the switch away from designated (i.e. listed) places of worship through closure of the GPOW scheme will be bad for those buildings, because at a time of financial stringency it moves money away from the most important buildings.
27 May: The Friends of Friendless Churches have issued a statement. We think it is well worth reading as it sets out very clearly the concerns felt by many people about the closure of the Grants for Places of Worship Scheme. It appears in their Newsletter (produced jointly with the Ancient Monuments Society) for Summer 2017. You can find out more about the Friends here. The statement is in section 7. below.”
This comprehensive update continues with sections relating to: How to seek a repair grant for a place of worship in future; HLF commentary on the closure of GPOW Our view of the closure of GPOW; Correspondence with HLF and others; The views of some other organisations; Background documents; Archive of older material.
With regard to “How to influence the course of events”, the HRBA notes “[u]nder the circumstances, we are not encouraging a mass write-in campaign. But we would encourage those with concerns or experience in this area to think about writing in a considered and formal way (for example, by letter) to the appropriate person”.
The closure of the Grants for Places of Worship (GPOW) scheme does not affect the government’s grant scheme for reimbursing expenditure on VAT (called the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme).