page is part of the explanation of the financial
structures of the Church
Commissioners were formed in 1948 by the merger of two charitable
Anne's Bounty was established in 1704 to improve clergy incomes and
housing in areas of need
Commissioners were empowered by Parliament in 1840 Parliament
to redistribute some of the Church's historic resources to make "additional
provision for the cure of souls in parishes where such assistance is most required".
In 1998 the new National
Institutions Measure revised the role of the Church
Commissioners so that now their purpose is primarily to obtain the best possible
long-term return from diversified investment portfolio
- to meet pension commitments to provide maximum sustainable funding
- to support work such as Bishops,
Cathedrals and parish ministry
- In doing so, to pay particular regard to making additional provision for
the cure of souls in parishes where such assistance is most required"
- To administer the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and settling
the future of redundant churches.
In 2003 the Commissioners made the following payments:
|Guaranteed annuity payments to clergy
|Grants to Dioceses distributed via the Archbishops Council
| - Stipends of clergy in areas of need
| - Parish mission grants
| - Non selective funding for parishes
|Clergy Pensions (all service prior to 1998)
| - Transitional relief for Dioceses (re Pensions)
|Bishops stipends, housing, office and working costs
|Cathedral stipends & grants towards other costs
|Other church bodies
|Clergy resigning because of women priests
|Administration and restructuring
Annuities were guarantees given to parishes when much of the assets
of the Church was stripped from the local parishes. Historic parishes often
had very substantial income and the guaranteed annuities were a form of compensation.
They were frozen at a certain point and in 2004 the General Synod voted to
phase them out.
The Commissioners also provide funds for car loans for clergy, loans to parishes
to provide for assistant clergy, loans to Dioceses
Misuse of assets?
The "general fund" was set up by the Church Commissioners' Measure
1947. This measure established that the income from the fund be held on discretionary
trust mainly for supporting poor parishes and poor clergy. Over the years the
words "general fund" has been expanded to include other funds held
by the Church Commissioners; various Measures have subsequently been enacted
which provide for payments to be made out of the "general fund".
A group called the Parishes Protection Group argued for some time that the
various Measures had not in fact changed the 1947 Measure so that the discretionary
fund is still in force. Therefore since this fund is a restricted fund under
the terms of the 1947 Measure (Section 10(6) ) the original bequest has been
Whether this is correct or not it is clear that the Church Commissioners funds
have for some time been used for purposes for which they were never intended.
This is principally because the pension provisions has largely been foisted
onto the Commissioners.
It is now significant that as much money is being used by the Commissioners
to support Bishops and Cathedrals as is used to support parishes. This is a
cosy arrangement since the Bishops are heavily represented as Church Commissioners
(all Diocesan Bishops used to be Commissioners) and means that neither Bishops
nor Cathedrals are in any way accountable to the Dioceses they claim to represent.
In 2004 the Commissioners put forward a proposal for the financing of Bishops
to be passed to the Dioceses. This caused apoplexy amongst some of the Bishops
not least Christopher Herbert, the Bishop of St. Albans who later in the
year went on to appoint Jeffrey John as Dean of the Cathedral despite strong
opposition in the Diocese. The process demonstrated that liberal Bishops
such as Herbert are completely unaccountable and have no regard to the
teaching of the Church.