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The Church of England has just released its Parish Finance Report for 2019.  It is not the most exciting thing to read but it does open a window on the state of our Established Church.

We reproduce the summary from page 7 of the report for our readers’ cogitation.

“This report contains a national summary of financial activity for Church of England parishes in 2019, as measured through the annual Return of Parish Finance. To provide meaningful comparisons, data from 2010 to 2018 are also included. Parish finance statistics aggregated to diocesan level are published separately and summarised online. Finance information from cathedrals or from churches and chaplaincies in the Diocese in Europe is not collected through the annual parish returns, so directly comparable figures are not available. However, the latest aggregate data provided by the Diocese in Europe for chaplaincies’ total income, expenditure and giving are noted in Table 10 of this report. 

Overview 

In 2019 the total income of Church of England parishes was £1,097 million and the total expenditure was £1,071 million. The largest source of income was parish giving, which (together with tax recovered) accounted for £610 million. The largest item of expenditure was diocesan parish share, which accounted for £344 million. 

Since 2012, parishes’ overall income has exceeded their overall expenditure. Income and expenditure have both risen, although real terms income has fallen each year since 2016. Real terms expenditure fell in 2017 and has risen by less than 1% a year since then. Income exceeded expenditure by 2.4% in 2019 compared with 3.6% in 2018 and 4.7% in 2017. 

Over the three-year period 2016 to 2019, annual income from giving increased by £17 million and income from trading activities by £15 million. Annual salaries and staff costs increased by £19 million and church running costs increased by £19 million. In real terms income from giving fell by 3.0% and expenditure on parish share fell by 4.1%. 

Income 

The main sources of income remained broadly similar over the ten-year period 2010 to 2019. Giving made up around half of parishes’ total income. However: • as a proportion of total income, giving fell by 4 percentage points over the decade, from 51% in 2010 to 47% in 2019; • trading income rose from 9% to 12%; • grant income rose from 8% to 9%, although it dropped back from 2018, when it exceeded £100 million and accounted for 10% of total income. 

Giving 

Parish giving rose each year from 2010 to 2019 but is worth around £31 million, or 6%, less in real terms. Regular planned giving accounted for over twice as much as collections and other forms of giving combined. In 2019, for every pound donated through giving, 19 pence of tax was recovered (Figure 5/Table 4). The average amount given by each planned giver continued to rise and the number of planned givers continued to fall. In 2019, 479,000 planned givers gave on average £14.10 a week in planned giving. This was 21% higher, in real terms, than the average giving figure ten years previously, but the number of planned givers was 21% lower.

The full report can be viewed by logging onto the Church of England website and searching under Financial Statistics.

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