Finance: Common Fund
The Common Fund allows us to put a vicar in nearly every parish.
The Common Fund is about every parish seeing itself as part of the big picture and giving generously and sacrificially.
The Diocese of London is big: it stretches from Heathrow in the west all the way up to the Olympic site in the East and from central London right out to Barnet and Enfield. We represent over 400 parishes, serving over six million people.
We are able to be present in every community because of the work our parishes do – and not just in bricks and mortar but in people.
The Common Fund allows us to put a vicar in nearly every parish. It pays their wages, their pension, their housing, their training and it even pays for the training of a parish’s next vicar.
The Common Fund is about every parish seeing itself as part of the big picture and giving generously and sacrificially. This means parishes are able to help fund work and worship in places where people contribute to the big picture in amazing ways but do not have the financial resources to meet the cost of ministry.
It is how we express being one body by doing more together than we could ever do alone.
What is it?
Common Fund is money given by congregations in every parish in the Diocese of London. It is collected from rich and poor parishes, to provide and support clergy, and to further our work in every parish, across London. That is why our contributions are called the ‘Common Fund’; they are made by everyone, for everyone. Generous giving by congregations enables the Diocese to live out Capital Vision 2020; to maintain ministry and enable mission in all parts of the Diocese of London.
The Church of England receives no money from the state for mission or ministry.
Why should we contribute?
We should contribute to Common Fund:
- to enable the Church to work throughout London
- as a sign of our commitment to proclaim Christ’s Gospel
- to share our resources with our fellow Christians
- because we recognise the importance of our Church’s mission for the future
- in thanks for God’s generosity towards us
- because we believe wholeheartedly in our Christian faith.
In 2018 we estimate that we will need about £30 million to sustain the Church of England in London. Roughly 75% of this is needed simply to house and pay the clergy, and to provide for their pensions. The Diocese of London is fortunate in that it has some resources from ‘yesterday’s congregations’ which are invested in property and funds. The income is used to help pay the costs of keeping clergy in parishes, and to contribute towards the wider work of the Church of England. This year, 2018, we hope to meet the costs of about £30 million through £22 million promised in Common Fund and £8 million being provided by investments and other income.
Briefly, money comes in from
- parishes (Common Fund);
- rents and investments;
- other donations.
and the Diocese spends it on:
- paying parish clergy, including pension, NI, Council Tax;
- housing for clergy;
- training for new priests and existing clergy;
- giving to other less well-off dioceses in England;
- developing lay ministry;
- supporting parishes in many other ways.
What is the average cost of a parish?
The basic running costs of the parish; heating, lighting, insurance, repairs, services etc; are paid for by the congregation. On top of this, supporting one full-time priest in a parish and contributing a fair share of the costs of other activities is estimated to amount to around £80,600 per parish in 2018. This can be divided into three roughly equal parts:
- We pay the parish priest
- We have to pay pension contributions and provide a house
- We have to train new clergy, support parishes in many ways, help schools, help the wider church.
A simple breakdown of figures for 2018:
2,100 National Insurance
9,600 Pension contributions
2,100 Council Tax
900 Resettlement grants
5,700 Central Diocesan Support
8,500 Parish & Area Support
4,300 National Church Support Activities
(2,300) Vacancies saving
Based on a parish with one cleric and one house.
Who decides how much a parish contributes?
Each parish’s PCC decides.
Each parish is told the costs of keeping its clergy and its share of other costs. The PCC makes an offer based on its knowledge of its own finances and diocesan finances. The generous offer reflects the parish’s ability to give as well as how much it costs to run the parish.
Not all parishes can give this full amount, so the generosity of past generations supports parishes that cannot meet their full costs. However, this inheritance is limited, so for the Church to continue to be present in poor and deprived areas of London, as well as in rich areas, the less well-off, poor parishes depend on their own generous, committed and sacrificial as well as some giving by better-off parishes. At present, the promises for 2018’s Common Fund are mostly being met.
What happens if the Diocese doesn’t receive enough Common Fund?
In past years when contributions to the Common Fund have not been sufficient, there have been reductions in clergy and lay posts. In some parishes, self-supporting clergy have been appointed, or two parishes have been put together.
This may have to happen again if sufficient funds are not available. Selling property and reducing central costs never provides a long-term solution to a lack of income.
- There are over 500 stipendiary (paid) clergy across the Diocese
- Another 140 clergy give their time free (self-supporting / non-stipendiary clergy)
- There are over 400 parishes in the Diocese of London
- Almost 200 parishes are in areas classified as ‘deprived’
- There are 150 church schools.