Andrew Selous MP, representing the Church Commissioners, gave the following written answers to questions from an MP on 8th July 2022:
Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the Low Income Communities Funding, if the Commissioners will ask the Bishop of Truro to pass on the benefits from that funding to mission in Truro’s lowest income communities, such as by reducing their parish share, as opposed to leaving it to underwrite the diocesan deficit.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): The award, monitoring and evaluation of Lowest Income Communities Funding is the responsibility of the Archbishops’ Council, as delegated to its Strategic Investment Board. The primary business of the diocese is to fund mission in parishes, chiefly through funding the provision of stipendiary clergy, and so the primary driver of a deficit or surplus is the difference in cost between ministry funded and funds received from parishes and other sources towards these ministry costs.
The Diocese of Truro expects that by 2023 all or nearly all of the funding received from the Lowest Income Communities Fund will have been passed onto funding ministry and mission in the diocese’s lowest income communities, and not underwriting the diocesan deficit.
Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to paragraph 76 of the Diocese of Liverpool’s Transforming Wigan bid document and the 500 per cent increase in the number of young people involved in church, as reflected in average weekly attendance figures, in the performance reporting on SDF projects, what figure has been reported against that target to the Archbishops’ Council Strategic Development Unit.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): The latest monitoring report for the ‘Transforming Wigan’ project dates from April 2020. The project team reported that this was the most challenging part of the project. An initial attempt to develop a Network Youth Strategy was brought to an end as it did not provide the growth required or connect well with the whole. The Wigan team undertook a significant review to re-engage and develop a more embedded youth strategy, building on learning what worked well. The next phase of work was to be built around pioneer chaplaincy, an internship scheme for engaging young people in mission, and a Brighter School of Discipleship. From the information available to the National Church Institutions there have been over 2,000 direct contacts with young people in schools through this work.
Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the Diocese of Liverpool’s Transforming Wigan bid document, and the expectation expressed in paragraph 76 of that document that there would be a real-terms increase in annual giving of £500,000, what figure has been reported against that target to the Archbishops’ Council Strategic Development Unit in performance reporting on Strategic Development Fund projects.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): Based on learning from the project, the focus of this objective was changed to focus on the long term sustainability of the deanery – to clear the parish share backlog of the deanery with the diocese, to establish an annual balanced budget that is fully funded by the deanery, and to develop a deanery giving scheme focused on the mission, engaging more people in the parish, and increasing overall giving year-on-year. This was on track at the end of 2019, at which point Wigan had cleared its historic backlog. Since then, Covid has had a significant impact, and the deanery is seeking to rebuild its financial position. A final evaluation of the project has been commissioned and should be provided internally to the Strategic Investment Board by the end of the year. More information about the Transforming Wigan project is available from the Diocese of Liverpool here: https://liverpool.anglican.org/about-us/liverpool-dbf/sdf-projects/transforming-wigan/
Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the Diocese of Liverpool’s Transforming Wigan bid document, and the list of expectations expressed in paragraph 76 of that document, according to performance reporting on Strategic Development Fund projects, (a) which of those expectations were achieved in full by the end of 2021 and (b) which have not been achieved in full.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): Over time there have been adjustments to the programme to reflect learning and the experience on the ground. The latest internal project review with the national church dates from April 2020, and at this point a majority of these objectives were seen as on track. An end-of-project independent evaluation has been commissioned and will be presented to the Strategic Investment Board later this year. More information about the project is available from the Diocese of Liverpool here: https://liverpool.anglican.org/about-us/liverpool-dbf/sdf-projects/transforming-wigan/
Ben Bradshaw MP (Lab): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to their decision to award the Diocese of Leeds £3,094,588 of Strategic Development Funding (SDF), and figure 10 of the Independent Review of Lowest Income Communities funding and Strategic Development Funding by Sir Robert Chote and others, how many of the (a) anticipated and (b) recorded numbers of new disciples came from the project Strengthening Mission Across the City of Leeds between 2017 and 2021.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): The Church Commissioners do not award funding to specific dioceses; this is the role of the Archbishops’ Council, as delegated to the Strategic Investment Board.
The Independent Review notes on page 27 para 3.32, beneath Figure 10, that “the Strategy and Development Unit do not regard the estimates of new disciples witnessed and expected for individual projects that underpin the aggregates as a robust basis to compare their actual and expected performance, which of course suggests that one should be wary of combining them into an aggregate figure.”
The figure used in the report is 175 new disciples out of an anticipated 1125 by 2024, but is based on older data. More up-to-date figures from the end of 2020 show that the project as a whole is ahead of its interim goals for attendance by the end of 2021, and early data shows further growth into 2022. As with all churches, the long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are still to be worked out. The Chote Review of Lowest Income Communities funding and Strategic Development Funding can be found at: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2022-03/IRLS%20-%20final%20report%20%282%29.pdf
Ben Bradshaw (Lab): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the Church of England Report, Released for mission, growing the rural church, published in 2015, which identifies that 17.6 per cent of the English population live in rural areas and 40 per cent of churchgoers attend parishes in rural areas, and with reference to the Parish Finance Statistics 2020 which shows £471 million of parish giving for the whole of the Church of England in 2020, what proportion of that parish giving came from rural parishes.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): A revised analysis based on ONS rural/urban land-use classifications and the latest (2019) mid-year population updates, gives a slightly different set of parishes classified as rural, totalling 24% of the English population. Analysis of church attendance has been complicated in recent years because of the effects of COVID and restrictions on in-person worship, but it is estimated that 37% of attendance is in these parishes. Analysis of the £471million giving reported in 2020 Parish Finance Statistics indicates that 44% came from these parishes in rural areas. Rural areas tend to be wealthier on average; of the population living in the most deprived 10% of parishes, 5% live in these rural areas, and 95% in urban areas. (Replacement for a previous holding answer).
Ben Bradshaw (Lab): To ask the Member for South West Bedfordshire, representing the Church Commissioners, with reference to the Answer of 28 March 2022 to Question 145801, on Church of England, and the official document, Governance: simple, fruitful and sustainable, published by the Diocese of Truro in April 2021, which states that in a multi-parish benefice a pastoral scheme may unite several parishes to become a single parish with one PCC, whether the Church Commissioners have made an assessment of the consistency of that scheme with the definition of a parish.
Andrew Selous MP (Con): The document Governance: simple, fruitful and sustainable summarises the Diocese of Truro’s approach to mission and pastoral planning and is consistent with the requirements of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011, which provides the legal framework for the local organisation of worship, mission and ministry. Under the terms of the Mission and Pastoral Measure several parishes can be united to become a single parish with a single PCC, or variations of that model.