Leamington Priest in David-Goliath battle with Government over tax

The Rev Christopher Wilson.
The Rev Christopher Wilson.

The Priest-in-Charge at Leamington’s parish church is so angered by a tax imposed on listed places of worship that he has come head-to-head with the Government over the issue.

The Rev Christopher Wilson, who oversees the running of All Saints’ and Holy Trinity churches (both listed buildings) in Leamington, is calling on politicians to vote to exempt listed churches, temples, synangogues and other places of worship from paying the insurance premium tax (IPT) - which currently stands at six per cent of their insurance payments.

It was when he opened the latest insurance renewal letter for All Saints’ that stated how much IPT was due that Mr Wilson felt incensed enough to travel down to Westminster in London to speak to Treasury officials about the matter. Currently, both All Saints’ and Holy Trinity’s IPT bill is more than £100 each month.

Speaking to the Courier this week, Mr Wilson said: “People don’t always realise that we have to pay this tax.

“Other charities, including hospices, pay it too. I don’t believe that’s the way in which the public wants to raise its taxes.”

Stating that he had a “very sympathetic hearing” from Treasury officials, Mr Wilson said: “Policy is not determined by them, but by politicians. So what we need is for people to lobby their own MP and copy in the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

“Church insurance is hugely expensive. To have that levy on top is too much.

“Like most churches, we operate on a shoe-string and have to cover our own costs. Our buildings are particularly important in times of crisis and celebration.”

He added: “If we were starting from today, we would not sit within the heritage buildings we have. It’s a huge privilege to have them and we have a responsibility to care for them, but our priority has to be the people.”

To sign an e-petition on the issue, visit: epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/60191