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/ 14 October 2013

VAT on Church Buildings: important update

Since October 2012 parishes have had to pay VAT on all alterations and repairs to their listed church buildings. While the government gave grants to reimburse this expenditure through the Listed Places of Worship Grants Scheme (LPWGS) the scheme didn’t cover everything.

However, as of 1 October 2013 the government has announced changes to the scope and operation of the LPWGS. These changes will enable churches to claim for a larger range of VAT expenditure from the scheme. This will have major benefits for project budgets.

The increased boundaries of the scheme now include works to pipe organs, turret clocks, bells and bell ropes. Significantly, professional services directly related to eligible building work such as architect fees will also become eligible. These changes apply to works supplied from 1 October 2013.

These changes will be accompanied by administrative changes to simplify claiming through the scheme including:

A new provision that in any 12 month period each place of worship may submit one claim using eligible invoices with a value between £500 and £1,000 (excluding the VAT paid). This is in addition to an unlimited number of claims where the value of eligible work carried out (excluding VAT) is £1,000 or greater.

Scanned and photocopied invoices will now be accepted to support claims.

The scheme will process payment runs each week to deliver a smoother flow of payments to applicants helping applicants receive their grants more quickly.

The survival and successful expansion of the LPWGS has much to do with the campaigning of the Church Buildings Council, chaired by the Bishop of London, and the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance whose Development Secretary has recently joined the London DAC.

Full details of the changes and new application forms will be available on the Listed Places of Worship grant scheme website from 1 October 2013.

This was written by Matthew Cooper, formerly from the Parish Property Support team.

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The diocesan communications team provides support to the network of clergy, churches, parishes and other worshipping communities that comprises the Diocese of London, as well as to the staff teams of the London Diocesan Fund.

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