Members of Bishops Council welcomed Andreas Whittam Smith, CBE, First Estates Commissioner, who explained about the work of the Church Commissioners before hearing reports of social and pastoral developments across the Diocese.
Among the facts revealed by Mr Whittam Smith were that
- Running the Church of England costs £1,300,000 a year – “about 1/5 of the cost of Waitrose!”
- About 15% of the running costs come from Church Commissioners – the rest comes mainly from giving.
- Giving is most generous in the North of England and giving to churches equates to double the average for charity giving in Britain.
- Assistance goes to where it is most required – so much often goes to poorer dioceses. The money is also linked with efficiency which should be proved before funds are received.
- The Church Commissioners are essentially a financial institution inside the Church with two main remits
- To manage the funds well
- To distribute the surpluses from these funds in an effective manner.
The record of the past 20 years show assets growing by 9.5% p.a. (as compared to pension funds which grew by 8.3% p.a.) The Commissioners’ target is to produce 5% above inflation so they are currently clearly above that figure
£197 million in total was distributed from the funds last year
£114 million was spent on clergy pensions – This is a growing needs and takes priority.
Archbishops and bishops stipends and costs including bishops´ legal costs in some instances are paid by the Commissioners as are stipends for Deans and residentiary canons
£31.6m went in supporting low income dioceses
£5.5m was spent in mission and development
In considering where funding is needed the Commissioners are currently looking at which churches show growth – against the background of 60% of UK parishes in decline and the other 40% expanding. Mr Whittam Smith stressed that in the Commissioners’ thinking
- No territory is too difficult
- Churchmanship is irrelevant
- Leadership is what matters
Ethical investment policy is important but expensive . . .
Members of Bishops Council offered their own examples of growth and development within the Diocese in Europe.