Mayor Lutfur Rahman has set aside two million pounds to repair, adapt and improve places of worship in Tower Hamlets.
Religious groups can apply for grants of up to £300,000 under the council’s community faith buildings support scheme.
There are around 90 mosques, churches, temples and synagogues in the borough, including interfaith community halls.
Rahman said: “The introduction of this new programme will support social cohesion across the borough by making a real difference to local faith groups who are working hard to improve the fabric of their buildings in these difficult times.
“Our Community Plan recognises that faith and religion continue to play a prominent role in the lives of the majority of our residents, with the census showing that 80 per cent of local people have a religious belief.”
The East London Mosque on Whitechapel road plans to apply for the grant, as repairs are needed on the 28-year-old building.
A spokesperson for the mosque explained that there is a problem with the roof: “It has been like this for 25-odd years. The purpose of the grant is to help the community. It is an excellent opportunity for various faith groups and organisations to get support from the council.”
The Methodist Church in Tower Hamlets will also be applying for a grant.
Peter Barlow, Circuit Executive Officer, said: “We will use the money for new disabled ramp access at our church in Bethnal Green which is used by us and a Brazilian congregation.
“It will also be spent on new Sunday school rooms for our church in Poplar and glazed front doors for our church in Bow.”
Speaking to Eastlondonlines, a spokesperson from the Hindu Pragati Sangha association said they too were planning to apply for funding. “There is only one temple in the borough right now,” he said. “Another one is under construction in Mile End and it is almost complete.”
However not all residents are supportive of the announcement which comes as many families in the borough are set to loose up to £103 a week as of April 2013 due to drastic council budget cuts.
Abdur Rahman of Bow, said that he failed to understand why the council had set up the grants. “Why are they spending money renovating mosques and churches?” said the 36-year-old father of two. “People are going to get moved around like cattle because of the cuts. Shouldn’t they do something to help them instead?”
Muhammad Gul, 28, who works in a Whitechapel take away said the council might have had the right intentions to help the community but believes that the time might not be right. “I think there are other issues the council should be focusing on like education and crime,” he said. “These repairs can be made later.”
Motin Uz-Zaman, Labour councillor for Mile End East said that he largely supports the scheme but does have some reservations concerning transparency and the fast timescale: “It is important when the mayor allocates the funding to groups he treats everyone fairly and honestly and protects the council’s integrity.
“He needs to ensure that there is a transparent process when allocating this funding. I am also concerned with the tight deadline set for groups to apply.”