Parishioners have dug deeper into their pockets to support the Church of England’s finances over the past decade.
New figures from Church House, Westminster, show that, while attendance fell by 7.6 per cent between 2004 and 2013, the total amount given by congregations has not dropped, as individuals have donated more cash each year.
The average amount given by each churchgoer has gone up by 4.7 per cent, on average, over the ten-year period, compensating for declining congregations. In 2013, £294 million was donated to parish churches and cathedrals, an increase of £5.2 million on the previous year, and £74 million more than 2004.
This giving, together with grants and other fund-raising, makes up more than half — 52 per cent — of the C of E’s total income for 2013.
The money brought in by trading income (such as hall lettings) and fees for marriages, baptisms, and funerals amounts to 17 per cent of the Church’s income, while that from the investments contributed 20 per cent.
In total, income of all forms brought in by the parishes was two-thirds of the Church’s income, dwarfing the 18 per cent contributed by diocesan investments and cathedrals, and the 15 per cent from the National Church Institutions.
The average parishioner who gives by standing order donated £11.62 a week in 2013, an increase of 53 pence on 2012. The C of E encourages its members to give at least five per cent of their annual income. In reality, the figure is 2.9 per cent: slightly higher, at three per cent, in the Northern Province than in the south (2.8 per cent).
The trends since 2004 show that the Church’s total income has increased by just 0.2 per cent, after taking account of inflation. Spending, on the other hand, has gone up by 3.5 per cent in real terms.
In 2013, the C of E spent £14.8 million more than its income, a deficit of one per cent. Because of increases in the investment funds of the Church Commissioners, however, its net surplus was £33 million.
The dioceses have spent more than their income every year since 2004, whereas parishes normally bring in comfortably more than they spend, apart from the worst years of the recession, from 2008 to 2010. In 2013, parish income was £33 million more than expenditure.
Most spending has remained flat over the ten years, but some has fallen. The cost of maintaining and repairing the Church’s buildings has fallen from 17 per cent of the total spending in 2004 to 13 per cent in 2013. Management and administration costs have also decreased.
In contrast, parish and cathedral operating costs have increased their share of total spending, while the cost of clergy stipends has increased by 17 per cent over the decade, even though there has been a 15-per-cent fall in their number.
Total spending by dioceses has not increased above inflation, apart from their contributions to the National Church Institutions, which has gone up 1.8 per cent above inflation each year, largely because of the increasing cost of retirement housing.
The senior financial planner for the C of E, Carol Fletcher, said: “Through our investments, trading income, and, of course, the generosity of parishioners, we have been able to continue in our mission to be a Christian presence in every community.”
When giving to your parish church, do you work out a percentage of your income? Vote now
Envelope firm has HMRC licked A SMALL Christian firm has saved churches and charities thousands of pounds by persuading Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to delay changes to Gift Aid envelopes.
HMRC announced last month that it had revamped the wording of the Gift Aid declaration, and that the new language had to be used from the start of the next tax year, in April.
The change meant, however, that some churches and small charities would have to discard their leftover stock of envelopes and buy new ones (Letter, 6 November).
Envelope Systems, an 82-year-old Bedfordshire company that supplies envelopes to thousands of churches and charities, approached HMRC, asking for an extension of the deadline to the end of 2016. It was refused, and the company launched an online petition on Wednesday of last week, which quickly gained more than 700 signatures.
Within 24 hours, it had persuaded HMRC to extend the deadline to use up old Gift Aid envelopes indefinitely.
The managing director, Penny Miles, said that, although her company could have profited from selling the new Gift Aid envelopes, it was more important to do the right thing for her customers.
“Certainly, it would have been good for business in the short term,” she said on Monday. “But sometimes in life, things come along that are so daft and so bad for your customers that you think to yourself ‘Is this really worth it? Do we want to be complicit in this?’”
Besides wanting to save her customers money, she said, her colleagues would have been sad to see their envelopes going straight into landfill. About six million envelopes from her company alone were currently in circulation, she estimated.
On the petition, many people had expressed their frustration at the situation. Geoffrey Woodhouse, from Royal Wootton Bassett, said: “Our church ordered a fresh supply of envelopes in September, before the new mandatory style was available. I anticipate we will have to destroy at least 500 envelopes.”
A spokesman for HMRC confirmed that the old envelopes would no longer have to be abandoned when the new declaration was introduced in April.