In 2017, Bernard Taylor presented the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with a report of the independent review he chaired of the sustainability of Church of England church and cathedral buildings.
This report made several recommendations that focused on listed places of worship and were intended to address the challenges they face which have adversely affected their financial sustainability and fabric maintenance.
The recommendations were intended to increase the engagement of communities, encourage a more strategic approach to the maintenance and repair of listed places of worship, and address legal barriers to the wider use of and responsibility for listed places of worship (churches in particular). The report also recommended a future funding model of specialist Community Development Advisers (CDAs) and Fabric Support Officers (FSOs). To test these recommendations and learn what works and under which conditions, the review also recommended that new approaches should be piloted in urban and rural locations.
In response to these recommendations, DCMS and Historic England developed a pilot programme – the Taylor Review Pilot – to run from September 2018 until March 2020 in Greater Manchester (an urban area) and Suffolk (a rural area). The pilot scheme was available to listed places of worship of all faiths and denominations in the pilot areas. Frontier was commissioned to evaluate the Pilot, by generating evidence which is both:
- Formative: offering evidence-based learning about the design and implementation of the Taylor Review Pilot, undertaken in real time so that improvements can be made to implementation on an on-going basis; and
- Summative: offering evidence-based learning about what has been delivered by the pilot and what outcomes it has led to relative to what would have been expected absent the pilot interventions. The summative evidence also includes data from a comparison of how those outcomes differ across the two pilot areas (Greater Manchester and Suffolk) and an assessment of the value for money achieved with the resources invested in the pilot.
Frontier’s report of the emerging monitoring and evaluation evidence covering the first 7 months of the Pilot has been published today. It provides emerging evidence on the role and activities of the FSOs and CDAs, the distribution of almost £500,000 of grants for minor repair works, and the support provided to listed places of worship via workshops. All of this evidence has informed changes that can further increase the effectiveness of the Pilot during its remaining year of funding, as well as identify key areas of interest to explore in more depth in the final evaluation, due later this year.
Frontier regularly undertakes evaluations to deliver robust evidence to learn about the implementation and impacts of investments and other interventions.
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