explanation of the financial structures of the Church of England.
of England is a complex institution and this survey of
its finances is necessarily brief.
The heart of the Church of England is its parishes. Parish finances
are the responsibility of the Parochial
Church Council, which
receives money in and pays money out. Income arises from giving,
legacies, fees, rent, investments etc. Expenditure includes building
maintenance, ministry resources, non-clergy staff costs and parish
share or quota. For the purposes of this paper Cathedrals are
similar to parishes albeit with some significant differences.
Dioceses are the regional layer of the Church and their finances are
primarily the responsibility of the Diocesan
Board of Finance.
Income arises from parish share, donations, legacies, investments,
sale of properties etc. Expenditure include the administration of
the Diocese, particular boards, diocesan officers, costs relating to
stipendiary clergy in the Dioceses together with their housing.
Part of the
income of each Diocese derives from glebe land
transferred to the Dioceses from the parishes in 1973. Likewise,
the assets of a Diocese comprise in large part the Parsonage
houses that belong to each Benefice.
the Church of England is defined both doctrinally and by
its establishment. The House of Bishops provide
oversight whilst General Synod exercises
all this is regulated by Parliament,
which, at least nominally,
represents the people.
The Archbishops' Council is an umbrella
for most of the national
bodies of the Church attempting to bring together both oversight
(it is the Council of the two Archbishops) with governance (it is
accountable to and partly elected by the General Synod).
The Archbishops' Council therefore embraces most of the national
bodies of the Church. Income comes primarily from the Dioceses.
Expenditure includes all the costs of the central bodies, including
training, as well as the costs of ecumenical and international
bodies. The Council also oversees around £20million of Church
Commissioners' grants that are allocated to Dioceses primarily for
The Pensions Board acts as trustees
for several funds and administrator for both these and others (covering both
clergy and lay employees). The Pensions for all current employees are fully
funded by contributions from Dioceses or other bodies.
The Central Board of Finance now acts as Trustee for various
funds that invest on behalf of others, including parishes and
Dioceses. Through its subsidiary company CCLA it also manages
funds for other charities and local authorities.
In 1948 the Church
over from two bodies
concerned to sustain ministry in areas of need. In the years
following their role has changed significantly and, for example,
they now run the national clergy payroll. Their income comes
mainly from historic assets. They spend around £160million (not
including the clergy payroll). Now around one tenth of their money
is given directly to assist needy parishes. Over 60% of their
expenditure goes to the pension provision of all service prior to
1998. Just over 10% of their funds is used to pay for the stipends,
housing and costs of Bishops, around 4% for Cathedrals and 6%
for general parish support. The Commissioners also make loans
to clergy, retired clergy, parishes and Dioceses.
Parish share (or quota)
part of the expenditure of each Diocese is on parochial
clergy (stipend, housing, national insurance etc.). To meet this
they require income and the main income comes from parish share
or quota. Parishes are under no legal obligation to pay this but
without it a Diocese cannot meet its commitments. Some
Dioceses, particularly the older ones, also gain significant income
from investments including the old glebe land and from the sale of
clergy houses. Therefore, the level of parish share varies greatly
from Diocese to Diocese. The level of grants from the Church
Commissioners to each Diocese is adjusted in order to give
greater assistance to poorer Dioceses.
A parish administrator. The PCC
will usually pay the salary
direct and probably contribute to a pension with the Pensions
A stipendiary clergyman. The Clergyman
receives his stipend
from the Church Commissioners (who act like a payroll
bureau for this) who pay it out of the account they hold for the
relevant Diocese. Pensions contributions are also paid by
this means. Expenses of office will be paid by the parish.
parsonage house. This belongs
to the Benefice but is
listed as a Diocesan asset and is maintained and
administered by the Diocese. In older parishes the property
and possibly other land will have come from the historic
patrons or the parishioners.
A retired clergyman. He receives
his pension via the
Commissioners who channel money from the Pensions
Board. Pension commitments for service prior to 1998 are
met by income from the Church Commissioners investments (despite the fact
that these assets were originally given to
benefit poor parishes. Since 1998 Dioceses have gradually
picked up the pensions bill, which they meet from parish
share payments and pass on to the Pensions Board. Some
retired clergy receive housing loans from, or jointly own
property with, the Commissioners.
The present financial structure dates back to the 1970s and was
significantly revised in the late 1990s. For centuries prior to this
clergy were mostly paid locally from glebe income and parish fees
with the predecessors of the Commissioners assisting poorer
parishes. This resulted in widespread inequality, which the
centralised system rectified.
The 1973 Endowments
and Glebe Measure transferred assets from
parishes to Diocese. This was to ensure greater equality. Each
diocese should show the remaining assets and income from them
in their accounts. The income should be used to pay parochial
clergy and on average appears to represent around £3,000 per
clergyman. Some well-endowed parishes, including small country
livings, often handed over assets that would have generated more
than enough to continue paying their clergy today.
It is a matter
of debate whether the centralised system of
payments and pooling has served the Church well over the last 30
years. For centuries prior to this the Church had survived and
generally thrived without such a system.