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Changes to Grant Schemes

Changes to Grant Schemes: National Churches Trust, Benefact Trust and Heritage Fund.

The National Churches Trust

The National Churches Trust paused its grant programmes in 2022 in order to launch a new strategy and grant database this year.  The first of its three grant programmes is now open for applications.

The Large Grants (previously Cornerstone) will now be a two-stage process.

  • Deadline for Stage One: 30th March
  • Deadline for Stage Two: 9th May

This scheme is to support urgent repairs costing over £80,000 or facilities costing over £30,000, including VAT and fees.

Grants will never exceed 50% of the total project costs.  The maximum grant size is £50,000, however, grants of £40,000 to £50,000 are extremely limited and reserved for cases which demonstrate a very high case for investment.  In 2022 the average grant size was in the region of £15,000. 

The remaining two programmes are expected to open soon.

Medium Grants (previously Gateway)

Medium Grants (previously Gateway) will continue to be for urgent and essential maintenance and repair projects, as well as project development and investigative work up.  The total project cost must be between £20,000 and £80,000 incl. VAT and fees. Grants will never exceed 50%.  Decisions will be made at committee meetings three times a year.

Small Grants (previously Foundation) will continue to support urgent maintenance works and small repairs, as well as small investigative works and surveys. Project costs should be up to £20,000 incl. VAT and awards will never exceed 50% of the costs. Decisions will continue to be made on a rolling basis. 

To be eligible for all the grant programmes you must:

  • ensure the church building is open to the public for a minimum of 100 days a year beyond worship use (or will be following project completion).
  • have already raised at least 50% of the total project cost.
  • have a qualified professional, with conservation accreditation leading the project.
  • have at least two quotes for work.
  • have all necessary permissions in place before applying.
  • ensure the project has not started and will not start until a grant offer is formally made and accepted.

To find out more and apply to the Large Grants Programme please visit The National Churches Trust’s website.

The Benefact Trust

As part of a new-look grants framework, the Benefact Trust has launched a new Building Improvement Grants Programme to protect and enhance Christian buildings; ensuring their continued use for generations to come, and to safeguard their rich heritage.

Support will be given for direct capital costs relating to the following types of work:

  • Essential, one-off repairs or other capital works to ensure the continued use or viability of a building (capital work must be considered urgent or necessary within 12 months)
  • Minor capital works or equipment purchases to meet operational or accessibility requirements (e.g. essential operational equipment, AV equipment, hearing loops, ramps, etc)
  • Conservation or restoration of historic features (e.g. stained glass, carvings, interior furnishings, clocks, tower bells, organs etc) which contribute to preservation and appreciation of a building’s heritage
  • Other aesthetic enhancements (e.g. interior decoration, furnishings or public realm improvements) to improve indoor or outdoor spaces for users
  • Energy efficiency/renewable energy measures (e.g. heating/lighting upgrades, solar panels, etc) which improve the sustainability of church buildings/facilities and enable their continued use

This grant will not support regular maintenance and works normally covered by insurance.

If your project focuses on capital works with clear community impact (e.g. new/more accessible facilities for community use or to grow congregations) you should refer to the new Community Impact Grants programme.

To be eligible for a grant from either programme, you must have raised at least 30% before applying to the Trust and preferably have all relevant permissions in place.

There are no deadlines and decisions take between 2-6 months depending on the size of the grant required.  The size of your grant will be calculated by the Trust’s Grants Officers based on your total project costs and their assessment criteria.

The Roof Alarm Grant Scheme has also been extend until the end of 2023.  Grants will fund up to 50% of the cost of the alarm, up to a maximum of £2,500.  The proposed alarm system must be from a supplier that is approved by the church’s insurer, and the church must commit to maintaining the alarm for a minimum of five years.

National Lottery Heritage Fund

The National Lottery Heritage Fund (aka Heritage Fund and previously called the Heritage Lottery Fund) has released the first details of its long-term vision for the UK’s heritage – Heritage 2033.

“Over the next decade we will take a longer-term view, investing in heritage for the future as well as for the present. We will invest in places, not just individual projects, to bring about benefits for people, places and our natural environment.

We will strengthen partnerships with governments, local authorities and statutory agencies and create new collaborations with those who share our vision.

These ambitions are set out in a simplified investment framework and form the foundation of our shared vision for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone.”

There are four investment principles that will underpin everything:

  • saving heritage
  • protecting the environment
  • inclusion, access and participation
  • organisational sustainability

There is reason to be hopeful that this will bring positive change for the built heritage, including Places of Worship.  The vision includes a commitment to reducing the amount of ‘heritage at risk’ as well as new strategic funding streams which will include:

“…identifying gaps in support to the heritage sector, particularly where there is heritage at risk and in need of conservation – for example places of worship or industrial heritage.”

The recent announcement sets out the overarching principles and ambitions of Heritage 2033. Further detail and direction will be provided in the summer with the release of the first of a series of delivery plans.  In the meantime, applicants are asked to continue to apply for funding using the current guidance and outcomes.

So, if you have been considering applying to the Heritage Fund but were waiting in case the programme changed this spring, the advice is to wait no longer and apply under the current programme

We will keep you updated as soon we have any further details.

For advice on grants and support completing applications please contact Holly

Page last updated: Monday 6th March 2023 11:34 AM
First published on: 6th March 2023
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