A STRONG investment performance in 2020 means that the Church Commissioners will not only fulfil their pledge to support the Church of England to the tune of more than £930 million in the current triennium to 2022: they look set to maintain this level in the next triennium, to 2025.
The annual report, published on Tuesday, shows that the Commissioners achieved a return of 10.4 per cent on its investments in 2020 — ahead of their target, despite the volatility and uncertainty of the markets during the first year of the pandemic.
The Commissioners were able to distribute £244.1 million in 2020. Charitable expenditure, excluding clergy pensions obligations, stood at £162.5 million compared with £117.5 m in 2019.
The longer-term results also remain strong, the annual report says: the amount spent on supporting dioceses and the local church increased by £39.7 million to £99.1 million.
Returns show that the value of the Commissioners’ investment assets on 31 December 2020 stood at £9.2 billion, compared with £8.7 billion at the start of the year. Performance over five, ten, and 30 years was also ahead of target returns.
Financial support offered to dioceses, cathedrals, and churches because of the pandemic included £75 million of immediate liquidity support (News, 3 April 2020); the establishment of a Diocesan Sustainability Fund programme; and a £20-million Cathedral Sustainability Fund (News, 17 July 2020), to counter the decline in income from donations and visitors during the lockdown.
The annual report describes cathedrals as focal points not only for the Church, but for the communities they serve, opening their doors to millions of visitors each year. In 2020, £6.5 million was provided under section 21 of the Cathedrals Measure, which funds the stipends and pension costs of the Dean and two residentiary canons at all cathedrals except Oxford and the Isle of Man.
Strategic development funding in 2020 to 2022 — together with Lower Income Communities Funding — is being targeted at promoting growth in the largest urban areas of the country, and on one or both of younger generations and deprived communities. The report identifies the largest urban areas as containing 62 per cent of the population, 67 per cent of 18- to 29-year-olds, and 84 per cent of the most deprived areas.
The First Church Estates Commissioner, Loretta Minghella, said, “It’s a testament to the investment team that the fund’s returns were so strong, and this financial performance will enable the Commissioners to fulfil our mandate to support the Church’s mission now and in the long-term.”
The document is available for download here
Read our interview with the chief executive of the Commissioners, Gareth Mostyn