The parish share resources are used to train, pay, house and meet pension contributions for all our clergy. There’s a ‘pot’ of money administered centrally on behalf of all parishes in the diocese by staff at Peninsular House, who are also paid from the ‘pot’. This money also contributes towards the support services available to parishes, including lay and Reader training, management related to legal requirements such as faculty applications, and to the cost of general and diocesan synod and the related decision-making groups. Parish share’ (which used to be called ‘quota’) is the amount contributed by each parish towards these shared costs. The diocese also receives some financial support from the Church of England centrally and some grants. This system makes sure the Church of England has a presence in every part of the country – from the wealthiest to the most deprived. If each parish had to pay for their own clergy many would not be able to afford it.
The amount each parish pays in our diocese is worked out using a formula that takes into account the number of people attending services (averaged out over 10 years), and the socio-economic status of those living in each parish.
The diocesan budget has nothing to do with inflation. Three-quarters of the budget is spent on clergy stipends, clergy housing, council tax and national insurance, and training – none of which rise in line with inflation. In recent years, all dioceses have had to take over responsibility for paying clergy pensions from the national Church. This has added hundreds of thousands of pounds to diocesan budgets, especially as retired clergy now live longer. Our diocese saw this coming and created a Transition Fund in 1995, investing £1.5m in advance. That investment doubled in size, so that the fund has been subsidising diocesan budgets for several years and it is now fully expended.
Each year, the central diocese starts with a budget of zero and has to justify everything they plan to spend money on. The total diocesan budget then has to be approved by our elected representatives on Bishop’s Council and diocesan synod. Each deanery is also given the chance to comment on the budget.