This section of our website contains financial information about the Church of England. It has been compiled by some of our supporters (working in a financial scrutiny team we call ‘Finscrute’) who are chartered accountants, experienced business people or other professionals.
They have worked together to create a consolidated financial picture, as the Church of England is a very complex organisation comprised of 7 ‘National Church Institutions’ and 42 dioceses, each which are individual charities. All the information used to compile these web pages is in the public domain. Source documents include: the Annual Report of the Church Commissioners; the Annual Report of the Archbishops’ Council; the Church of England Parish Finance Statistics; and the 42 sets of published diocesan accounts and information made available for each diocese on the Charity Commission website.
At present, all the figures are for the calendar year 2021. You can see the total picture here, and the diocese accounts on the tab adjoining this one, named CofE Finance – by Diocese When the various accounts become available for 2022, these pages will be updated.
These pages are to help you understand where the Church of England’s money comes from and is being spent. They will also show you how the much larger sums of money being raised by parishes are being spent.
Familiarity with these numbers can help you fight the arguments that “There Is No Alternative” (‘TINA’) to cutting parish clergy. If you have any financial information which you feel may be helpful to us, or you have the expertise to offer our financial scrutineers some voluntary help, please email us on email@example.com.
Did You Know?
The Church of England has substantial funds at the centre
- The Church Commissioners has £10bn (£10,000m) funds that have been built-up over the years
- The 42 dioceses have £6bn (£6,000m) funds in aggregate
- Church Commissioners and Dioceses Combined draw an annual investment income of around £400m from these funds
Imbalance between Parishes and ‘Head Office’
- The Parishes have very few assets but, mainly thanks to parishioners’ generosity, they pull in a colossal annual income of £1bn
- The Parishes paid £314m to Head Office (2021) through the Parish Share scheme
- The Dioceses spent £332m on parish ministry (also 2021) and £49m on clergy pension contributions, making £381m in total.
- The difference between parish share ‘income’ and parish ministry expenditure (£381m-£314m) is £67m – dividing that into the £400m Head Office investment income, we compute 17%. This tells us that only 17% of Head Office investment income goes directly to parishes; 83% goes elsewhere
- Moreover, large amounts of ‘diocese’ investment income come from glebe land, which was originally donated to parishes, but transferred to dioceses for administrative reasons in the 1970s.
The growing financial pressures on the Church of England need to be recognised
- The amount available from Church Commissioners is under threat: in 2020 around £200m (almost half the Head Office income) was distributed from capital growth in Church Commissioners’ funds; in 2022 lacklustre market performance combined with inflation could diminish the extent to which funds can be distributed.
- We need to rebalance central spending back towards the parishes.
Church of England – Cash Flow Diagram
Created and presented by the Financial Scrutiny Committee at our Summer Conference in July 2022
This detailed chart shows that the Church of England, far from being a single entity, is an ecosystem of different organisations. Here the Parishes are shown in Green, the Dioceses above them are shown in Yellow, and the National Church Institutions at the top in Blue.
The bottom of the chart shows that in 2021, Parishes received £0.9bn from giving, and passed £314m of it to Dioceses in the form of Parish Share.
The middle of the chart shows that in 2021, Dioceses paid £332m for Parish Ministry which figure rises to £381m when pension payments are added. So it could be said that in aggregate, dioceses paid for Parish Ministry by a combination of the £314m Parish Share and £67m additional funds. The Dioceses received £134m income, mainly from endowments that came originally from the parishes as Glebe, so passing on £67m is not generous. Dioceses also got grants from Archbishops’ Council. From these combined sources, dioceses were able to fund £119m of internal spending and employ over 2,000 people.
The top left of the chart shows a piggy bank with £10.2bn in it at the end of 2021. These are the Church investment funds managed by Church Commissioners and they generate £226mincome for distribution, with potential in good years to distribute capital growth as well.. These funds get spent in the various ways shown in the chart, including £87m going to Archbishops’ Council which is the conduit for passing money on in grants. The spending of this money is determined by small committees. The centre tends to allocate to projects in million pound dollops whilst in the parishes, we would be able to make significant changes with £10,000.
Church of England’s Finances
At Save the Parish, we have done something simple and revealing – added together the accounts of the 42 dioceses and the Church Commissioners, for 2021. Note: we haven’t added in parishes – they are separate and too numerous to add, but we know from church statistics they raise about £1,000m pa.
These figures look only at Head Office. There are lots of convoluted money flows within the Church of England. Many of these, however, are internal and ‘within Head Office’. Think of them like transfers of money from our left pocket to our right pocket. For example, grants like SDF just go from the Strategic Investment Board to the dioceses in the first instance.
Our purpose now is to give you a simple picture of the external totality, ignoring all the internal money flows, and showing just what comes in from external sources as income, and what goes out as real expenditure. The results are in £m.
Let’s start with the total income – £738m. That’s a lot of money, equivalent to a good-sized business. At the top of the income is Parish Share – £314m – the aggregated amount paid by parishes to their dioceses.
The rest is income from investments, in one form or another, making about £400m in total. (This is made up from £264m Rent and Investment Income, and £153m of Donations, Legacies and Other). We’ve just heard proposals from the Church Commissioners that they will increase the capital distribution in the future by about a further £100m – if so, we will have £600m annual investment income at our disposal.
That’s a very significant amount which sits alongside the £1,000m that parishes raise through hard-won, sacrificial giving.
Now let’s turn to the expenditure that ‘Head Office’ controls. Note the total of £738m which shows that the income and expenditure balanced. Now see in the first line that £381m is spent on Parish Ministry. Some of the other expenditure looks innocent enough, but the amounts are huge. Just remember some rough maths as you look at these figures. If a vicar costs £50,000 pa, each £1m is the salary of 20 vicars.
So let’s look at the two expenditure sub totals: first of all £192m for the dioceses. It’s made up of the £119m on Dioceses’ Administration, £42m on Bishops and Archbishops, and £31m given by dioceses to support the National Church in the so-called ‘5 votes’. The £119m diocese spending funds over 4,000 employees. The £42m spending on Bishops amounts to £1m per diocesan bishop. The £31m given to support the National Church is far from trivial.
But that is not all! It is redoubled and more with a further £165m. Some of this is necessary but there has to be scope for savings within such a huge spend number. All in all, it looks like there is a stark contrast between Head Office which appears to be financially secure, thanks to all the investment income which derives from the inherited assets of the Church of England, and the Parishes which are well-stretched and desperate for more clergy. In the parishes it’s scrimping and saving to keep going, and make ends meet. In Head Office, as we have just heard, it’s have another £190m to ensure Net Zero and £20m on Racial Justice. These projects aren’t wrong of course – they are the issues of our day – but we question whether the proposed amounts are in balance with the finances of the rest of the church. The investment income is the most wonderful gift, but if we are cutting the number of priests, it seems it is not being used optimally.
You may be wondering, where are the grants from Archbishops’ Council? The answer is, they are not included here, for they are an example of a ‘left pocket/right pocket’ internal transfer – as mentioned in my introduction. Initially the grant money travels just from Archbishops’ Council to a Diocese, both of which are considered to be Head Office in this analysis. If a Diocese passes the money to a parish, then it becomes Parish Ministry, and therefore part of the £381m at the top of the expenditure in this analysis. However, it does seem that a lot of the grant money remains in the dioceses’ bank accounts and does not emerge from it.
All in all, we carry on with huge expenditure from the investment income as if nothing is wrong, as if there are no financial pressures elsewhere in the Church. It is not even properly voted-on and approved by Synod. By contrast those of you out at the nerve endings – the parishes – will know that it is very difficult, and sometimes so serious that there are clergy lay-offs and/or vacancies that are left deliberately unfilled, to make ends meet. Those funds from Head Office are badly needed to stop this bad trend, and so to revitalise the parish.
When the General Synod met in February 2023, Save the Parish held a very successful ‘fringe’ event. A range of Synod members, including John Spence, the Church of England’s Head of Finance, and his deputy came to hear what three of our financial scrutiny team had to say about finance and figures in the Church, and improving the husbandry of a charity’s financial resources. If you would like to watch it for yourself – you can find it online at https://youtu.be/
(Last updated: 18/03/2023 )