Applications have now opened for a new grant-scheme that will mean parishes can apply to the diocese in 2024 and 2025 for grants towards the costs of minor repairs and improvements for church buildings. This follows the announcement last Autumn that the Diocese of Southwark has been awarded a grant over two years as part of a national Church of England initiative which will see £9 million shared with dioceses for repairs and specialist advice to parishes.

These grants will fund projects that are for stand-alone small-scale works that will cost in total up to £10,000 (or £12,000, depending on VAT implications). Grants typically awarded are expected to be between £5,000 and £10,000 per parish, providing between 50% and 90% of the cost of a project.

The funding for repairs is intended to help parishes promptly implement urgent minor repair projects, particularly ‘stitch in time’ works that can save money in the long term by avoiding deterioration and acting in a timely way before potential costs rise further.

All Church of England consecrated churches and licensed places of worship in parishes are eligible. Works solely to church halls will not normally qualify, but such applications would be assessed on a case-by-case basis (for example if the hall is an extension to the church).

Eligible costs are for

(1) Urgent minor repair-works;

(2) Minor improvement-works that are essential to sustain worship and mission;

(3) Professional fees for urgent repairs or essential improvements;

(4) VAT incurred, unless this can be reclaimed elsewhere (e.g. under the Listed Places of Worship (LPW) Grant Scheme).

Routine maintenance (including cleaning, inspections and servicing) is not eligible, and neither is any work covered by insurance, nor conservation work to church furnishings.

Improvements are defined as church-building projects (costing under £12K – or £10K if VAT can be reclaimed elsewhere) that involve altering/adapting the building or upgrading its building-services and facilities, involving one or more of the following: Accessibility; Digital connectivity; Heating (especially where contributing towards Net Zero Carbon aims); Lighting; Wiring; Kitchens; WCs; Climate-resilience/mitigation; Bats mitigation.

For 2024, decisions on awarding grants will be taken on a monthly basis between March and October (excluding August). To be considered, any grant-application needs to have been submitted (along with necessary supporting documentation) by the end of the preceding month.

To have the best chance of success, parishes should give a persuasive case for demonstrable need, in terms of urgency of work, the benefit it will have for parish mission and ministry, and the circumstances of the parish. Applications should also show how they align with diocesan strategic objectives as set out in ‘Southwark Vision 2024-2035’. A higher level of grant will generally be awarded to parishes that are above-average in the national ranking for Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD). It is expected that most parishes will supply an element of partnership funding, whether from their own resources or other grant-sources.

Applications are made by completing the online form, and submitting supporting documentation such as contractor’s quotations and photographs. Supporting documents should be emailed to [email protected] – please remember to include your parish name as well as your church name in any correspondence.

Diocesan staff will help to identify suitable projects, and help parishes with their applications. Where required, some support may be offered towards the technical aspects of implementing the work.

If a grant application is unsuccessful, reasons will be given. Where an application can be tweaked in order to fit the scheme’s criteria, or to more clearly demonstrate the benefits of the proposed work for parish mission and diocesan strategic objectives, advice will be offered to assist in re-submitting an application subsequently. Larger repair projects, and those which are less urgent, will need to be financed by other means. Ineligible works may be eligible instead for other grant-schemes, whether administered by the diocese or externally. Unsuccessful applicants will be offered advice on this. The diocesan website provides general advice for parishes both on giving/fundraising and on other grants.

For grant-offers made in 2024, work will need to be carried out (and paid for) and the grant claimed within one year from the date of the formal offer. Usually, grants cannot be claimed until the works have been completed and the PCC has paid the eligible invoice(s).

Details of how to apply are explained fully in our downloadable guidance.

To apply, please do so by filling out and submitting the online Microsoft Forms questionnaire.