Church faces funding crisis: York Synod is told lay giving must rise by half to avoid cutting clergy

THE Church of England is facing a financial crisis which could lead to far-reaching changes in the parish system, members of the General Synod were told yesterday in a debate on finances. Lay giving will have to rise by half in seven years if cuts in the number of clergy are to be avoided.

The Church Commissioners, who pay all the clergy pensions and a substantial portion of their salaries, are still reeling from the effects of ill- judged property speculations in the 1980s, which wiped pounds 500m off the notional value of their assets.

As a result, the proportion of clergy salaries paid by the congregations will have to rise from about 60 per cent to 80 or 90 per cent by the end of the decade, according to John Smallwood, a former deputy chief accountant at the Bank of England. Figures released by one pressure group at Synod suggest that every full-time salaried member of the clergy costs the diocese about pounds 26,000 a year in wages, housing and national insurance, though the average stipend is only pounds 12,800.

Mr Smallwood said that without greatly increased giving from the laity, the Church would have to choose between freezing clergy pay until the end of the century, cutting back on the numbers of proposed ordinations and encouraging retirements.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Waine, said that all parishes would have to move towards financial self-sufficiency. In his diocese, 'a third of the parishes are to some degree supporting the other two-thirds and that cannot be a sound situation'.

No one in the debate suggested how the laity might be induced to pay a great deal more to a fundraising system that is thoroughly unpopular. David Webster, a lay member from Rochester, who is a former Financial Times journalist, said that the trouble surrounding the commissioners' investments 'could easily lead to a crisis in confidence which would not help calls for increased giving'.

Mike Tyrrell, an accountant from Leamington Spa, claimed the commissioners had been maximising their income unwisely at the expense of capital and that their losses on property holdings were still substantial.

The quota system under which parishes are assessed by the diocese for their contributions both to their own running expenses and those of the wider Church mixes the two categories so that a parish will almost always believe that it is paying more to central funds than it actually is.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
News
Danczuk has claimed he is a 'man of the world'
news
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins wins the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager - Refrigeration

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Finance Manager - Central London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Business Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Buyer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT company are currently re...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor