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A limited financial support

State financial support for the churches in the United Kingdom is extremely limited. They enjoy certain advantages in common with other charities, in respect of certain tax exemptions (but not, for example, from Value Added Tax) and by an arrangement under which certain gifts by individuals to the charity also transfer to the charity the income tax paid by the donor in respect of the sum given. However, there are no payments by the state in respect of clergy stipends or pensions or of the operating costs of the churches. Although the law requires Church of England clergy to conduct weddings and funerals and a fee is fixed by law, the payment of that fee is a matter for the parties and not the state.

The only state finance is in respect of the maintenance of historic buildings. This is a particular issue for the Church of England: some 13,000 of its 16,000 parish churches are ‘listed’ as being of special architectural or historical interest under the planning legislation, and 4,000 are in the highest grade, Grade I. In the case of redundant churches, grants may be made by the state to the Churches Conservation Trust under the Redundant Churches and Other Religious Buildings Act 1969. In recent years, the state grant has amounted to 70% of the total funding. Since 1978, the state has, through an agency called English Heritage, made grants towards the repair of churches (and, recently, cathedrals) in use, but the amount of state money remains small compared with that from church funds.

D 11 September 2012    ADavid McClean

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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