Church of England: Finance

Church Commissioners written question – answered at on 19 September 2023.

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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 Review of Lowest Income Communities and Strategic Development Funding, published in March 2022, what steps the Church Commissioners have taken to implement new governance arrangements to ensure that Lowest Incomes Communities Funding is distributed to dioceses by the Archbishops’ Council is accounted for (a) effectively and (b) transparently.

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

The Independent Review of Lowest Income Communities Funding and Strategic Development Funding led by Sir Robert Chote was published in March 2022 and can be read here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2022-03/irls-final-report-2.pdf

In respect of improving governance arrangements of Lowest Income Communities Funding (LInC) the Review recommended:

  • Recommendation 2 - "Refocusing annual returns … towards more strategic reporting".
  • Recommendation 3 - asked staff to "identify and promote best practice … perhaps convening a learning symposium".
  • Recommendation 5 – asked staff to "communicate more clearly the extent to which LInC funding is sustaining ministry".

The action taken so far by the Archbishops' Council's Vision and Strategy team in response to those recommendations has been to:

  • Raise the profile of LInC funding within ongoing strategic conversations between its staff and diocesan teams, as part of dioceses' strategic development processes, with the aim of improving its effectiveness.
  • Ask dioceses to give information about the intended outcomes from their planned use of LInC funding, together with how they will be measured, as part of their annual return on LInC funding for 2022.
  • Plan a learning event to bring together diocesan representatives to share and develop their approaches on the use of LInC funding, aiming to improve the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of LInC funding.

The Independent Review also made further suggestions in Recommendation 1: "encouraging dioceses to use LInC funding more for clergy transitions" and in Recommendation 4: "maintaining current levels of LInC funding". While not related directly to governance, these may also feature in the learning event and in ongoing conversations with dioceses.

From the start of 2023, the new Strategic Mission and Ministry Investment Board (SMMIB), a committee of the Archbishops' Council, has replaced the previous Strategic Investment Board and Strategic Ministry Board. It distributes and monitors funds made available by the Church Commissioners and Archbishops' Council via LInC, SDF, and other similar funds.

The Boards of the Archbishops’ Council and the Church Commissioners are regularly updated by the SMMIB about funding decisions and projects supported by these funds. Members of the Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners Boards are part of the SMMIB and help monitor funding decisions and spending. The SMMIB will also provide an annual report to the General Synod.

More information about the role the SMMIB plays can be found here: https://www.churchofengland.org/media-and-news/press-releases/new-board-oversee-unprecedented-church-england-investment-mission-and

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