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Financial Situation

There was a presentation at Diocesan Synod about the financial situation:

The accounts of the Diocese show that there is, if we do nothing, a likely shortfall of about £160,000 in 2012, and of perhaps as much as £460,000 in 2013.  The problem has arisen rapidly – last year we had a surplus! - because of two factors:  we have a greater number of clergy in post in parishes than we had expected;  and because parishes, understandably feeling hard-pressed, have not been paying all they promised to the Diocese.  (see note for editors below)  


The Diocese is concerned about this, but we are working to bring the situation under control.  The problem was detected quickly, and we have begun consulting widely on possible solutions.  Some of these are short term proposals to cut costs and to increase income.  One way in which we intend to cut costs is to extend the length of vacancies before clergy are appointed.  We have never done this before and are very uneasy about doing so now – but at least this will mean that fewer clergy posts will be cut completely.  We shall work with parishes so that they can use the time creatively. 


As far as increasing income is concerned, nearly 80% of Diocesan income comes from the parishes.  We accept that all parishes work hard, and know that those who come to church give sacrificially.  But we believe that a bit more could be done to “sellâ€? our vision to those who come to church, and if they understand what we hope to do, will be prepared to increase their giving to the Church. 


We are also looking at long term strategic planning, including new ways of being the church, running services, raising money for mission, and so on.  Rydal Hall, our retreat and conference centre, is now making a surplus;  our OpShops (see note for editors below) are flourishing in Carlisle and the surplus they produce is being put back into mission to local communities. 


In the current context, all voluntary groups – indeed all businesses – are finding things hard.  The Church is still the most successful and active voluntary group in Cumbria.  Taking just the Church of England, we have a presence in every village, with more clergy per thousand parishioners than any other diocese in the country.  Our annual turnover is around £8m, but this has to pay for 130 clergy – a high quality but very expensive provision.   We care for hundreds of historic buildings – 113 of them Gd I or II*, the highest grades, about a third of the county’s total.  Voluntary work from our church people is estimated to be over one million hours a year, worth at least £10m a year to the county’s economy. 


So, the Church faces some challenges – but then it always has done, and so do those to whom we minister.  It was once said, “the church is an anvil which has worn out many hammers.â€?  We are confident that we will be able to come through this stronger and better, continuing to serve the people of Cumbria. 


notes for editors

  • each church is asked to pay to the Diocese what it can towards the cost of paying for clergy, their homes and their training
  • OpShops  are charity shops with a difference
  • people often raise questions about the Church Commissioners having wasted or lost money;  in fact, apart from one speculation which didn’t come off, they have significantly outperformed the market;  the real problem is that the Commissioners’ money has been allocated to sort out what would otherwise have been a pensions time bomb. 

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