Church of England Diocesan Benchmarking Study

We recently (1 May) reported here on the relatively cheery (given the global economic climate) 2009 financial results of the Church Commissioners, who contribute around 16% of the cost of running the Church of England.

We can now highlight a more wide-ranging (and more downbeat) Church of England Diocesan Benchmarking Study, prepared by Mazars, the international business advisory and accountancy firm which audits the accounts of 11 Anglican dioceses. The report, written by Katherine Peacock and Paul Gibson, is available to download at:

The document is based upon publicly-available information as at 31 December 2008. It covers the 42 English mainland dioceses (excluding Sodor and Man and Gibraltar in Europe). These dioceses vary greatly in size and demographics.

The analysis reveals that Anglican diocesan finances are finely balanced, with unrestricted incoming resources and unrestricted resources expended standing at £388 million and £384 million respectively.

Total funds amount to nearly £3.5 billion, of which only 6% are unrestricted. Endowments (63%) represent the biggest single component. The assets sub-divide into fixed assets (mainly property) at 71%, investments (23%) and cash (5%).

There is an average deficit on unrestricted funds of £200,000 and average unrestricted funds of £5 million. Dioceses have an average of 3.2 months of free reserves (in terms of spending of unrestricted funds), relatively low by the standards of the charity sector, with 10 dioceses having one month or less.

The report also looks at clergy and lay staff numbers, suggesting that working practices be reviewed, and at governance issues. 66% of income is devoted to clergy employment and housing costs. Diocesan boards are shown to be considerably larger than the norm for the charity sector as a whole.

Mazars is inviting feedback from dioceses on its review. Most media coverage of it to date has focused on the need for efficiency savings by the Church of England. ‘Cut your cloth to fit our straitened times, clergy told’ was the headline in The Times for 12 May, while ‘Too many rainy days might sink dioceses’ was the verdict of the Church Times.

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