Reepham & Wensum Valley Team Churches - at the Heart of the Community

Parish Share Update

Rural Dean, Rev’d Keith Rengert, shared his letter updating us about Parish Share contributions and the financial position the Diocese finds itself in after 3 months of lockdown.

To Incumbents, PCC Secretaries and Treasurers in the Ingworth & Sparham Deanery from the Rural Dean.

As I am sure you are aware, in the Diocese we are seeing across Norfolk and Waveney a reduction in parish share collections, which is understandable but extremely worrying.

The Diocese have been keen not to burden us with ‘demands’ for Parish Share during these most difficult of times, that said, they do need to keep their parishes informed as to where they are at financially as our diocese as the situation, as it stands, will affect us all.

Month on month, there is in excess of £150,000 per month less being collected than in the same period last year and, as has been mentioned in various publications, and in a letter from Richard Butler (Diocesan Secretary) to Incumbents.

The Diocesan administration needs to address this lack of income with some urgency.

Within the Diocesan staff team, they are taking all measures possible to reduce expenditure.

  • 48% of the staff team have been furloughed, with claims being made from the government for the salary costs, thus relieving the parish share of that burden;
  •  all posts are now being reviewed to see where reductions can be made (see a note at the end about costs);
  •  all quinquennial inspections of houses have ceased, with a resultant reduction in spend on property, although this cannot go on for the long-term as we need to keep our properties in good repair;
  • a myriad of other savings are being made and there will be a reduction in services in the fullness of time; • great strides are being made to ensure that we only spend what we have to.

But, despite all these efforts, the net result and current forecast if the current reduction in income continues, is an excess of expenditure over income in the region of £3million. This is quite a debt for us to take on.

As Rural Dean, I need to encourage our parishes to pay as much Parish Share as they can.

The Diocesan Staff team are very aware of the pressures on parishes who are not holding fundraising events, collecting regularly on Sundays, receiving premises rental income and all other forms of income which they have lost. They understand the extreme difficulty of not being able to pay but, of course, the stipends, housing costs (council tax, water rates, insurance etc) and general diocesan costs continue. An incumbent still has to be paid and housed throughout this pandemic and the costs continue even though the churches have been closed for nearly three months.

I am sorry to burden you with this request but, as you will know, we are in extremely turbulent times and working hard under difficult circumstances.

This Diocese, along with others, is in discussions with the national church about assistance; taking further steps to reduce our expenditure; and planning for the medium-long term reduction in the overall staff team which supports the work and life of the diocese in so many ways.

So, a final plea, pay as much Parish Share as you can, do this sacrificially, so that together we can help our Diocese in our housekeeping.

Keith Rengert (Rural Dean)

Note about costs of Stipendiary Clergy.

In the letter above there was the rather bald statement: “all posts are now being reviewed to see where reductions can be made”. Enlarging on this there is the new reality that in future when parochial posts become vacant the parish(es) will be assessed as to their ability or willingness to pay parish share. Following this assessment an appointment may, or may not, be possible.

An indication of Parish Priest costs is as follows:

  •  House for duty (3 days) £28K;
  •  1/2 stipend plus house £44K;
  •  Full time £65.5K.

Subsidies which have allowed benefices to pay less than the full whack will be phased out over about the next 5 years.