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Church Commissioners achieved five-per-cent return on investments in 2022

26 May 2023

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THE Church Commissioners achieved a five-per-cent return on their investments in 2022, their annual report, released on Thursday, says.

“Achieving these returns in a year of double-digit inflation, an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is truly a testament to the skill and dedication of our investment professionals,” the First Church Estates Commissioner, Alan Smith, said.

In his introduction to the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury describes the performance of the fund as a “remarkable achievement”. “I thank God for the work of the Church Commissioners and the difference they are making to the churches and in the communities we serve.”

The Archbishop also praises the decision earlier this year to set aside £100 million for an impact investment fund focused on supporting communities affected by the transatlantic slave trade (News, 13 January).

A report commissioned by the Commissioners had revealed that Queen Anne’s Bounty, a fund incorporated by Queen Anne in 1704 and united with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners’ fund in 1948, when the Church Commissioners were formed, had received donations from individuals and organisations involved in the slave trade.

In the annual report, the Commissioners’ chief executive, Gareth Mostyn, writes: “The Church Commissioners is deeply sorry for these historic links with transatlantic chattel slavery and, while we have been clear that nothing can repair the damage caused by the generations of human misery inflicted through the transatlantic slave trade, we can and do seek to invest in a better future for us all.”

Mr Mostyn highlights the most recent triennium spending plans, which include enabling a 30-per-cent increase in spending by the Commissioners, amounting to a total of £1.2 billion across the next three years (News, 11 May 2022).

The decision to increase spending followed a 13.3-per-cent return on investments in 2021. Although the 2022 returns are significantly smaller, the chief investment officer, Tom Joy, described them as “a very creditable result”.

“Our focus on the long-term and genuinely diversified approach allowed us to be resilient in the face of strong economic headwinds in 2022,” he said.

The report details spending increases in 2022 compared with the previous year: funding for dioceses and parishes increased from £86.8 million to £117.2 million, out of a total charitable expenditure of £186.8 million.

This included Lowest Income Communities funding and awards given by the new Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (News, 27 January).

One of the first awards to have been made under this new funding model was a £3.6-million grant for a church-plant in central Manchester (News, 31 March).

At £171.1 million, the sum that the Commissioners spent on clergy pensions in 2022 was £100,000 less than their expenditure on dioceses and parishes.

In total, the Commissioners provide about 20 per cent of the annual running costs of the Church of England.

The full report is available to read here

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