The tax move that could destroy our heritage in a stroke

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From: Peter Green, Pocklington, East Yorkshire,

I WAS pleased to read the views of the Right Reverend Stephen Platten (Yorkshire Post, April 28), and his views on ‘Why are churches facing VAT blow in a Big Society?’

His words will certainly resonate with hundreds of Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) across the whole of England, as they struggle to maintain and support their local churches.

I cannot understand a government which has had the support of so many people as it put together decent and sensible measures to reduce the national deficit, then seemingly throw away so much good will since the Budget.

The income from measures such as the imposition of VAT on the repair bill for churches must be tiny in the scale of the national deficit, but a VAT bill on top of desperately hard-earned repair funds will kill off many projects.

To put it into context, a repair bill of £150,000 will incur an extra £30,000 that has to found somehow.

PCCs, and I know many of them, comprise hard working individuals, who give their time for nothing, have little experience of major building works, and who are, in the finest sense, amateurs, and who will be collectively holding their heads in their hands as they contemplate the scale of this imposition.

PCC members look after churches; they do it to the very best of their ability, and they face quite daunting demands, from parish share contributions, to heating and lighting; from insurance to organ repairs, and when parts of the fabric wear out, or bits of it become dangerous, then these brave men and women work at appeals, and try to get grants from a dwindling number of providers.

English Heritage has a huge call on its resources, and has to be brutal in its allocation of available funds, so many churches have to simply manage without.

We are talking about grade one listed buildings, which have stood proudly since well before the time of Henry VIII. These beautiful buildings are not the property of PCCs, they are not individual parish’s heritage, they are part of the national heritage, yet the nation’s government is directly putting in danger building repair projects with a stroke of legislation that will damage historic buildings in both countryside and towns.