Historic cathedrals lose conservation funds

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The Daily Telegraph has reported that cuts to English Heritage's budget will remove £3 million a year from the conservation of England's cathedrals. The UK Government-funded body will cease its Cathedral Grants Scheme at the end of this year.

Simon Thurley, the chief executive of English Heritage, said last night that the cuts were unavoidable and blamed the Government for squeezing his organisation's funding. "Our budgets are under terrible pressure," he said. "We are making the case to the Government that we need more money for churches and cathedrals, but at the moment heritage does worse than sport, art and museums."

Ministers responded by insisting that the decision to withdraw the funding to cathedrals lay with English Heritage, not the Government. A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: "It's a competition and not everyone can have everything they want. The case made by other sectors was more convincing than that made by the heritage sector."

A report to be published next week by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission shows that nearly £200 million is needed over the next decade to carry out essential repairs to Church of England cathedrals.