Church of England: Wigan

Church Commissioners written question – answered on 27th May 2022.

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Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the Transforming Wigan project in the Diocese of Liverpool, in the interests of transparency in the use of charitable funding and learning lessons, if the Church Commissioners will publish (a) all requests for Church Commissioners’ finance for the project, (b) the responses to each request, (c) progress reports made and (d) comments by the Strategic Investment Board on those reports.

Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner, The Second Church Estates Commissioner

The diocese has asked for funding for the Transforming Wigan project once, in 2014, and was awarded £900,000 of SDF at that time.

Funding has also been awarded to projects to improve the strategic capacity (£168,000), multiply congregations in deprived areas (£1m) and to invest in younger generations (£4.6m) across the whole Diocese of Liverpool, which also have elements which support ministry in Wigan.

All SDF projects are announced when they are funded, are reported to the General Synod in the SIB annual report, and a full list is available on the Church of England’s website. All projects go through a robust process of a 2-stage application with full project plan, annual reporting, continuing engagement between the diocese and the national church, and a final independent evaluation. The diocese has chosen to publish their application on the Transforming Wigan website 1602081544.pdf (d3hgrlq6yacptf.cloudfront.net) but in general this robust process is dependent on being able to have open, honest and confidential conversations, both at Board level and with dioceses.

Transparency and learning have been mentioned in the Independent Review of LInC and SDF as areas where the funding programme can do more, and the Strategic Investment Board is working on proposals to improve both learning and transparency without compromising the quality and robustness of its accountability. Overall, the Strategic Investment Board has confidence in the Transforming Wigan programme and its engagement with young people, founding of new church communities, and training of clergy and lay leaders.

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