Historic Churches 2021

BCD SPECIAL REPORT ON HISTORIC CHURCHES 28 TH ANNUAL EDITION 5 THE HOUSE OF GOOD Eddie Tulasiewicz W ITH NATIONAL heritage bodies, charitable trusts and foundations facing increasing demands for funding, it is becoming increasingly important for churches to be able to demonstrate, using quantifiable measures, the value of church buildings to local people and to the nation. That’s why in 2020 the National Churches Trust, working with economic consultants State of Life, carried out a pioneering study into the economic and social value of church buildings. The findings of our report, The House of Good , have provided us with robust evidence to make the case for funding church buildings to ensure their future. We hope that in the future we may be able to provide a ‘House of Good’ calculator that will allow individual churches to measure their economic and social value. The focus of The House of Good study was the UK’s estimated 41,000 churches, chapels and meeting houses that are open for regular worship, excluding cathedrals. We included activity that may take place within a church hall as an extension of the church building. From a review of the literature and research in this area we concluded that research estimating the monetary valuation of the benefits of church buildings to society is still in its infancy. Studies tackling the subject are rather scarce and thus far have tended to focus on more traditional, economic spend (revenue, costs) and the heritage and/or tourism value, with some looking at volunteering. In the report we therefore attempted to fill in this gap with a comprehensive macro-level valuation study of church buildings, covering the key economic and social value components of the vital community activities and social care that church buildings provide and host. The main data sets we used were the National Churches Trust surveys from 2010 and 2020. To analyse the relationship between church attendance, wellbeing and volunteering at an individual level, we also used 77,510 responses from all areas of the UK from the Understanding Society survey 2009–10 and 2012–13. The two NCT surveys covered most of the Christian denominations in the UK, and although proportional representation of each denomination (especially the smaller ones) could not be guaranteed, we have reasonable confidence that the study took into account the denominational diversity of Christian churches throughout the UK. WELLBEING VALUATION A very important component not yet tackled in the literature is the wellbeing benefits generated by church buildings. This valuation is explicitly recognised in HM Treasury’s The Green Book , the The time given by volunteers in the provision of social and community good in church buildings is valued at £850 million per year. Local and national government would need to spend at least £200 million per year to replace the social and community services provided in church buildings. (Both photos: Diocese of Westminster)