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 2020.  When the various accounts become available for 2021, 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.  As soon as we can, we will be posting more detailed accounts and statistics, diocese by diocese. 

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 savetheparish@gmail.com.

(Last updated: 26th August 2022)

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 £5bn (£5,000m) funds in aggregate
  • Church Commissioners and Dioceses Combined draw an annual investment income of around £500m 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 £318m to Head Office (2020) through the Parish Share scheme
  • The Dioceses spent £363m on parish ministry (also 2020)
  • The difference between parish share ‘income’ and parish ministry expenditure (£363m-£318m) is £45m – dividing that into the £500m Head Office investment income, we compute 9%. This tells us that only 9% of Head Office investment income goes directly to parishes; 91% 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 shortfall in parish share – ie the difference between what was requested, and what was received – increased from £23m (7%) in 2019 to £47m (15%) in 2020. As a consequence of declining congregations, we expect an even greater shortfall for 2021 when figures are published.
  • Again comparing 2019 with 2020, total diocesan income dropped from £588m to £569m.
  • 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 Orange, and the National Church Institutions at the top in Blue.

The bottom of the chart shows that in 2020, Parishes received £925m from giving, and passed £318m of it to Dioceses in the form of Parish Share.

The middle of the chart shows that in 2020, Dioceses paid £309m for Parish Ministry which figure rises to £363m when pension payments are added. So it could be said that in aggregate, dioceses paid for Parish Ministry by a combination of the £318m Parish Share and £45m additional funds.  The Dioceses received £129m income, mainly from endowments that came originally from the parishes as Glebe, so passing on £45m is not generous. Dioceses also got grants from Archbishops’ Council. From these combined sources, dioceses were able to fund £126m of internal spending and employ over 2,100 people.

The top left of the chart shows a piggy bank with £9.2bn in it at the end of 2020 – a sum that has risen to over £10bn today. These are the Church investment funds managed by Church Commissioners and they generate a significant income for distribution – £320m in 2020 as you can see in the top left. These funds get spent in the various ways shown in the chart, including £98m 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 2020. At the next Synod, we may have the 2021 picture, but not everybody has published their 2021 accounts yet.

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 – £812m. That’s a lot of money. We tried to find a  benchmark to give you an idea of how big that is, and found – don’t laugh – Kwik Fit which has annual sales of £400m. So you could think of this as all the Kwik Fit sales, twice over. Most towns and cities have a Kwik Fit, so you get an idea of the size.

At the top of the income is Parish Share – £318m – the aggregated amount paid by parishes to their dioceses.

The rest is income from investments, in one form or another, making about £500m in total. (This is made up from £244m Rent and Investment Income, £185m from capital growth distributed from the Church Commissioners, and £66m 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 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 £802m which shows that the income and expenditure roughly balanced. Now see in the first line that £363m is spent on Parish Ministry. This is good, but not generous. It amounts to spending the Parish Share tax and adding £45m extra. The £45m represents just 9% of that £500m of investment income.

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 £196m for the dioceses. It’s made up of the £126m on Dioceses’ Administration, £38m on Bishops and Archbishops, and £32m given by dioceses to support the National Church in the so-called ‘5 votes’. The £126m diocese spending funds over 2,100 employees. The £38m spending on Bishops amounts to nearly £1m per diocesan bishop. The £32m given to support the National Church is far from trivial.

But that is not all! It is redoubled and more with a further £243m. Some of this is necessary (the extra £84m for clergy pensions, the £76m for running the Church Commissioners; 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 £363m 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.