The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has announced that from September 2017 it will support places of worship seeking grants for repairs through its open grant programmes rather than through its dedicated Grants for Places of Worship (GPOW) scheme. Historic England has now published details of the future pattern of support as follows:
“Historic England (HE) has contributed funds and expertise to listed places of worship grant schemes in partnership with HLF since 1997. When HLF took over full responsibility for funding and administering GPOW in 2012 we continued to provide specialist technical assessment of applications. We remain committed to offering on-going support for places of worship already awarded a GPOW grant.
HE continues to provide partnership funding for support officer posts, giving congregations access to local encouragement and guidance, especially where places of worship face major problems or need alterations to accommodate additional activities. We do not grant aid places of worship, except in very exceptional situations where buildings are at risk and the congregation, for reasons of conscience, will not apply for HLF funding.
While Historic England was not involved with the decision to close the GPOW programme, we continue to engage with HLF and other partners in open dialogue, to identify trends and develop appropriate responses to the challenges communities face with keeping their places of worship open and functional.
We will work closely with HLF to assess the impact of the changed approach, particularly monitoring whether the decrease in specialist involvement with repair schemes (as a result of the loss of HE technical oversight and the removal of the requirement for conservation accreditation for project architects and surveyors) will result in a drop in standards of repair.
With the help of HLF and others in the heritage sector, we will also check whether the closure of the GPOW programme has inadvertently disadvantaged any community seeking an HLF grant for repairs to their place of worship as a result of competition from better-resourced applicants.
HLF remains the single largest source of grant-funding for places of worship, and Historic England will continue to help it deliver this vital function as effectively as possible.”