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Policy and Guidelines

The Trust’s primary objective is to give financial help to churches and chapels that are in use as places of Christian worship, in the historic county of Somerset. Grants of up to a maximum of £5,000 can be awarded. Below details the policy through which grants are awarded, and should be read by all applicants prior to completing the grant application form.

Grants are normally restricted to eligible works, comprising:

  • Repairs to the main fabric of the church (walls, roofs, floors, towers, drainage, etc.)
  • Specific items of repair or towards phased repair projects
  • Improvements to allow for wider community use

Grants are not given for:

  • Basic maintenance
  • The repair or provision of bells, decorations, ornaments, lighting, heating, organs and boundary walls
  • Churchyard maintenance
  • Alterations, extensions or re-ordering schemes other than to allow for wider community use
  • Applications submitted within three years from the date on which a grant award has been paid

Grants will not be considered if

  • Work has started before the application has been received and registered with the Grant’s Secretary, and normally work should not start on site until a grant offer is made.

Please ensure you read and understand all the following sections.

In the case of major restorations and for buildings of outstanding architectural merit, the Trust will normally be able to consider a grant before the outcome of an application to English Heritage or the Heritage Lottery Fund is known, although the Trust reserve the right to request further information as a condition of their offer. It is presumed that the applicant has also considered applying for aid from other sources - the National Churches Trust, denominational funds, and so on.

The Trust - “The Trust” means the Somerset Churches Trust.

Eligible Works – “Eligible Works” means repairs or improvements to the main fabric of the church but not maintenance or other works as more specifically described in this Grant Policy.

Historic County of Somerset - "The Historic County of Somerset" is deemed to comprise the current county of Somerset and the unitary authorities of North Somerset, and Bath and North East Somerset in accordance with the implementation of the Local Government Act 1992 which came into effect on 1 April 1996. It does not include the area controlled by Bristol City Council.

Improvements to allow for Wider Community Use - "Improvements to allow for Wider Community Use" means the provision of toilet facilities, and/or serveries and/or the provision of access for persons with disabilities where none already exists.

The following factors will be considered:

Church funds available and grants obtained.
Value of proposed work.
Amount spent on repairs, extensions or re-ordering in recent years.
Future commitments and fund-raising expectations.
Re-applications for the same work.
Historic importance and architectural merit of the building.
Current and potential community use.
Parish size and church membership.

Grants will usually be limited to one third of the contract sum of the eligible works excluding VAT.

The Trust will be the final authority for making grants and it will be guided by the definitions of the Trust Deed, comments from the Trustees’ Management Committee and by these guidelines, which are intended to ensure consistency, uniform treatment and the most appropriate use of Trust funds. The Trustees’ decision is final and there is no ‘right of appeal’, nor will the Trustees enter into any correspondence about their decision.

Where a grant is made towards the provision of toilet facilites, it is a condition that the facilities are open and available for public use, wherever practicable, whenever the church itself is open, irrespective of whether any church representative is present. In the event it is found that this is not the case, the trust reserves the right to request the return of the monies awarded.

The Trustees cannot be held liable for any advice, act or omission of any Trustee or representative of the committee, or for any defective work or the standard of workmanship achieved.

The Trustees reserve the right to publicise any project and grant made.

It is requested that a ‘Trust poster’ advertising the grant be placed on the Church Notice Board and that a short statement about the grant be included in the parish news letter.

Should a grant be offered and accepted, the PCC (if not already a member) must become a Church Member of the Trust for a minimum period of three years at the subscription rate in force at the time.

The PCC should also encourage members of the congregation and individuals in the area to become members of the Trust.

Notes to Grant Policy

Applications should be made on the Trust's application form, which can be obtained from the Grants Secretary or downloaded from the website. When completed, it should be returned to the Grant’s Secretary, together with the documents requested. The Trust's Area Representative will visit the church or chapel before reporting to the Trustees. The Trustees meet four times a year (normally in January, April, July & October) and will adjudicate the application presented. Applications must be received by the Grants Secretary one calendar month before the date of the Trustees meeting at which the application will be considered.

The Trust will only make grants for work that is supervised by an architect/surveyor who is knowledgeable of current conservation and repair techniques and who has the appropriate professional qualifications and indemnity insurance.
A detailed specification and/or drawings drawn up by a registered architect or chartered building surveyor to cover the works must have been approved by the applying church or chapel and the appropriate statutory authority, (in the case of the Church of England, DAC Consent & Faculty). A copy of this authority should accompany any application. Any variations proposed as the work proceeds must be notified to the Trust.
A fully priced schedule of works, builder’s estimate or tender document must be submitted with the application, together with all relevant drawings and/or photographs explaining the works.
Applicants must declare all funds available for the project, including those held in trust.
Any further appeal literature, fund-raising information or proposed applications to other grant-aiding authorities should be declared at the time of applying.
Where major repairs are phased over a period of more than two years, applications for assistance can be made separately for each phase of the repairs at the appropriate time. Documentation to cover each phase will be required.
In order for a grant to be paid the applicant must be or must become a member of the trust and that membership shall be renewed for a period of at least three years from the date of payment of the grant.

Grant payments can be made against the architect/surveyor's interim certificate as work progresses, or at completion, provided that the value of the work completed on site has exceeded the grant by a factor of two. The Trust reserves the right to withdraw grant offers if not accepted within two calendar months, if work has not been completed, or if a certificate of practical completion has not been provided within eighteen months of the date of the grant offer. An extension of time (normally for a 12 month period) can be given upon request.

Following completion of an application, all correspondence and records relating to grant applications are stored at Somerset Archive and Record Office, Somerset Heritage Centre, Norton Fitzwarren, TA2 6SF. They are available for disclosure to the public following a period of five years after the date of the payment of the grant.

Ready to apply?

If you have any queries, before completing the form, email the Grants Secretary here. and then complete the application form.

Grant Application Form