From Dr Phillip Rice
Sir, - Mr K. Peters (Letters, 27
February) questions whether the General Synod should have voted
to borrow from the future. On the contrary, I believe that there
are good reasons that we should not be surprised by the Synod vote
to break "intergenerational fairness" and move forward on releasing
additional funds from the £6 billion endowment fund of the Church
I am surprised that there has not been more support for the
initiative of the First Church Estates Commissioner in putting this
before the Synod, and more calls for opening up the issue how much
might be distributed.
The Synod was told that the "Church Commissioners are willing to
open up the way they could fund growth initiatives". Provisos were
added: only if there was a genuine crisis; and if safeguards were
present to ensure that it was spent well.
But there is a further reason for action. It may have escaped
church attention that the current austerity has been very good for
one section of the economy, and that is the invested-funds sector.
The Western economies' loose money policy has boosted investment
returns of the large funds; and so the Church Commissioners'
endowment fund has done relatively well during the years of
austerity and cheap money.
This means that the argument for redistribution by way of
bringing forward expenditure is a subtler one: the pot that is
available is bigger because of the austerity. It follows that
distributions that are made to support mission could be seen as
slicing off some of the above-normal returns, and not as borrowing
from the future of the Church Estate.
The big issue for the Resourcing the Future team is just how
much of the endowment to "slice off annually" and put into diocesan
hands for backing strategic plans for growth, which are combined
with a strong bias to the poor (dioceses) - while the door is
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