May a parish or town council grant-aid a place of worship? – yet further thoughts

In March 2017, I posted with permission a piece based on the HRBA’s submission to the English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review. My earlier post attracted various helpful comments and did not address the issue of burial grounds at all – and there have also been subsequent developments. I updated the post on 10 June 2019, but that update included a reference to a version of Parish Resources Funding Guide 13 that has been superseded. What follows is a further update: the earlier post has been binned.


In 2017, the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance (HRBA) called on the DCMS English Churches and Cathedrals Sustainability Review to decide whether or not civil parish councils (and parish councils that have declared themselves by resolution to be “town councils”) may spend money on local church buildings and to resolve the current confusion. Under the current law, civil parish and town councils in England and Wales raise a precept that enables money to be spent on matters that are important to and benefit the local community: however, there are opposing views on whether or not they may make grants to places of worship.

Grant-aiding places of worship: the arguments against

The HRBA became aware that the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) took the view that parish and town councils are prohibited from giving money to places of worship – the suggestion being that s 8(1)(i) Local Government Act 1894 prohibits such financial support and that – unlike other aspects of that Act – there has been no subsequent legislation that has decisively overridden the prohibition. S.8 enumerates the powers of parish councils and 8(1)(i) reads as follows: Continue reading