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Draft budget

13 July 2012

THE Synod approved the Archbishops' Council's draft budget and proposals for apportionment for 2013 on Sunday afternoon.

Introducing the debate, Andrew Britton, chairman of the Archbishops' Council Finance Committee, said that last year the Synod had approved, for 2012, an increase of 1.8 per cent in total apportionment. During the closing months of last year, however, it had become clear "that expenditure in 2011 was coming in well under budget".

The Archbishops' Council had decided that it should forgo the increase that had been voted by the Synod, and reset the apportionment at the same level as in 2011. "It's that reduced level for 2012 which is the base on which the budget for 2013 is built." He said that "increases in apportionment have . . . been kept well below inflation."

Mr Britton said that the Council saw "more training of candidates for ordination as among the highest priorities for national expenditure". The Council, expecting a rise in tuition fees, had built up a reserve, meaning that, despite the changes to higher-education funding, it did not believe it necessary to supplement further the reserve in 2013.

Mr Britton concluded by stating that the Archbishops' Council's total expenditure for 2013 would rise by 1.9 per cent, and total apportionment would rise by 1.3 per cent. He thanked the dioceses for their "readiness to meet the contributions to the apportionment, as approved by Synod".

Gavin Oldham (Oxford) paid tribute to "another carefully prepared budget". Nevertheless, he argued that it showed "only a partial picture". The only way the Synod would see how efficient - "or inefficient" - it was would be to see a "consolidated picture". This had, in fact, been provided in 2009, and he encouraged Church House to produce it "year on year".

The whole Church ran on "about £1.3 billion" a year, he said. While £890 million was raised by parishes, diocesan church houses cost £150 million to run, raised mostly by investment income, but also with support from the Church Commissioners, and fees. Put another way, "For every £6 raised and spent within parishes, £1 is spent and raised for diocesan Church Houses."

Cathedrals cost and raised "just over £100 million a year", and the Archbishops' Council cost "just under £29 million". Thus, the total cost of Vote 2 (national support) was "about the same as three diocesan Church Houses". This was, he suggested, "pretty good value".

The Church as a whole reclaimed "about £84 million of tax from HMRC a year", much more efficiently in parishes than in cathedrals. He described what the state "gets" in return: "ministry in every square mile of England . . . preservation of the country's heritage . . . chaplains in hospitals, prisons, armed forces . . . governance of 4700 schools educating one million children . . . over 23 million hours of voluntary community action over and above church activities each month."

This was achieved through "the good will of millions of people giving time freely and voluntarily", who were "living channels outpouring the unconditional love which is God throughout the nation".

The Archdeacon of Rochdale, the Ven. Cherry Vann (Manchester), spoke on behalf of the Committee for Ministry of and among Deaf and Disabled People. She thanked the Council for approving an increase from £10,000 to £40,000 in provision of vote monies for work with these people. Last year, she had expressed "disappointment and concern" about the proposed cut from £90,000 to £10,000 for this "vital" work. This cut had been interpreted by deaf and disabled Christians, and those who worked alongside them, as the Church of England's "not wanting them, not caring about them".

The allocation of £40,000 showed that they were valued. It would aid work at the "cutting edge of ministry and mission" with "some of the most marginalised and alienated people in our country".

The Church benefited from including people of all backgrounds, and was weakened by excluding them.

Peter Smith (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) asked for clarification about the pooling among dioceses of the additional maintenance grants given to married students and some single students; and what made some dioceses make a contribution to pooling while others received funds from pooling.

The Revd Stephen France (Chichester), a member of the Archbishops' Council's finance committee, said: "While the finance of the Church of England might not be the most exciting part of Christian ministry, it underpins all that the C of E is able to do." He hoped that Synod members "will be reassured that, in these difficult times, the Finance Committee has its eyes firmly on the ball".

Professor Anthony Berry (Chester) questioned whether the cost and effectiveness of the Church's training provision was being "pursued as sharply as it can". He called for £250,000 to be spent on research and development of a new software suite to deliver an electronic distance-learning facility to help deliver pre-ordination, ordination, and post-ordination training, and the continued professional development of the clergy.

The Revd Eva McIntyre (Worcester), thanked the Council for an increase in the budget for work with people with disabilities, but urged that, when the next budget was produced, the Council be minded to consider that "we are an area that deserves another increase."

David Mills (Carlisle), president of Crosslinks, gave thanks for the "vision" of the Synod in carrying an amendment to support the pension contributions of clergy working in mission agencies, which, he said, was "invaluable".

Paul Hancock (Liverpool) asked whether "we have any idea of the effects coming through of the 50 per cent cap," and of "the advantages accrued so far from the inter-diocesan training for clergy and Readers together".

Penny Allen (Lichfield) said that it was "alarming" that some dioceses were "accepting money and not accounting for it". Dioceses should be "more accountable for ministry and mission", she said.

Mr Britton responded to the questions. He acknowledged concerns about the cost of training and the small size of colleges and training institutions. The cheapest way to deliver education was undoubtedly in "larger units", but the House of Bishops believed "that diversity in terms of tradition is something to be preserved, and that is the essential reason the units are sometimes small".

Mr Britton said that "considerable emphasis" had been put on distance-learning in negotiations with Durham University to validate ordination training. On the question of the proper stewardship of money, Mr Britton said that he wanted from dioceses a full account of how money was spent.

The budgets were approved for: training for ministry (£12,559,340); national support (£10,636,428); grants and provisions (£1,284,774); mission agencies' clergy-pension contributions (£644,986); and the CHARM Scheme (£3,765,615).

The Synod went on to approve the Archbishops' Council's proposals (set out in the Table of Apportionment in GS1872) for the apportionment among the dioceses of the net sum to be provided by them to meet the expected expenditure shown in the Council's budget for 2013; and the Council's proposals (set out in the same table) for the pooling adjustment for 2013 in respect of additional maintenance grants for ordinands.

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