In the second of three reports of proceedings at Diocesan Synod we look at the budget
David Greensmith, Chair of the Board of Finance gave a characteristically robust and honest appraisal of the diocesan accounts and budget at September’s Synod. Outlining that financially we are operating to support the Growth Agenda he announced we had failed to reach our target for a break even budget.
This was down to two main factors. Firstly we have in post more clergy than we budgeted for – we aim to have clergy numbers on budget by the end of 2015. Secondly, despite a fantastic collection rate of 99.5% for Parish Share we are still not getting the levels of Parish Share we need.
David outlined that the budget is structured under two broad headings. The first is missional leadership. The mission and ministry of our diocese is paid for by Parish Share supported by c. £1.7 million from the national church.
The other budget heading is for St James House. Not paid for by Parish Share but through other income and investments St James House had yet again a strong financial performance. This was commented on by Synod members who stated that our diocese receives a Rolls Royce service from teams who have made stringent cuts.
In basic budget terms in 2013 we made a loss of £298,000, with the overspend in missional leadership being the single biggest factor. Our annual accounts, which also factor in net movements in assets and investments, showed a net reduction of funds of just over £700,000 and David, in his report on budget progress, set out how he intends to tackle this. David outlined that the 2014 financial performance is showing that the missional leadership spend is getting closer to breakeven and that Parish Share is currently being collected at 97.5%, but with an improved collection rate predicted by the end of the year.
In 2015 the 3.3% increase in clergy costs will broadly be met by an increase in Parish Share of no more than 3.3% alongside an increase of 3.4% in funding from the national church. St James House should be able to gain a surplus which if it comes will be offered to Deanery Mission and Growth Funds.
The budget is structurally balanced and we have in place a framework for regular breakeven budgets. Two challenges remain. The non-payment of Parish Share and clergy numbers. And David is hopeful that through actions such as Reversing the Payment Trend and through deaneries working to achieve their targets we will be able to achieve this.
Balancing the books is important and we are grateful to David and the Finance Committee for all they do. If we perform well financially we have the ability to decide what we want to do, rather than be at the mercy of outside influences and funders. Projects to re-imagine the church, such as Transforming Wigan, are made possible by having good finances. A strong financial position puts us in a strong position for mission and ministry