Thinking Anglicans

Church Commissioners full report for 2009

We linked to the announcement on 28 April of the Church Commissioners’ results for 2009 here. Their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2009 have now been published, and summarised in an official press release, copied below.

Helping parishes and dioceses across the Church of England: Church Commissioners publish 2009 Report & Accounts
25 May 2010

The Church Commissioners today publish their full Annual Report and Accounts for 2009.

It follows publication of their 2009 annual results on 28 April, when they announced that they had achieved a 15.6 per cent return on their investments during 2009. The fund outperformed its comparator group over the last year as well as over the past five, 10 and 20 years.*

The results mean that the Commissioners’ current level of support to the Church – including increased pensions costs – can be maintained, in cash terms, for a further three-year period, from 2011 to 2013.

The Commissioners’ asset value has grown to £4.8 billion (from £4.4 billion at 31 December 2008), and the fund has been able to distribute £31 million more each year to the Church than if the investments had performed only at the industry average over the last ten years. The 15.6 per cent return was achieved against a comparator performance of 15.1 per cent for 2009.

The Report shows that annual spending on the Church of England’s mission and ministry is just over £1.2 billion. Around three quarters of this sum comes from dioceses and parishes, mostly through the giving of Church members.

In 2009 the Commissioners contributed £193 million – around 16 pence in every pound – of these costs. The Commissioners’ spending for parish-level work reflects their long-standing commitment to supporting the Church’s ministry where there are needs and opportunities. This support breaks down into two key funding streams – clergy pensions; and a wide range of support for different aspects of the serving ministry.

“The Church Commissioners have had a satisfactory first decade of the twenty-first century”, writes the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, in his introduction to the Report. “The bottom line is that the Commissioners’ assets grew at an annual rate of 5.1 per cent, two percentage points better than the average fund and 2.4 per cent faster than inflation or, in other words, by 2.4 per cent per annum in real terms.”

The Commissioners have distributed £31 million more each year to the Church for the past 10 years than if their investments had performed only at the industry average. They operate a distributions policy that smoothes fluctuations in the financial markets, with the aim of providing stable support to their beneficiaries.

The Church Commissioners manage an investment portfolio of £4.8 billion derived from the Church’s historic resources. They play a vital role in supporting the Church of England as a Christian presence in every community by looking after this as a long-term resource, balancing the needs of both current and future generations.

The First Commissioner added: “Don’t let it be thought that the Assets Committee and the staff who carry out the day-to-day work of managing our general fund are at all complacent about the Commissioners’ performance. As well as managing the general fund so as to produce increasing returns without undue risk and in line with ethical considerations, the Commissioners also have to decide how best to meet the needs of their beneficiaries.

“The first step is to declare how much may be distributed during successive three-year periods on the footing that the value of the fund in real terms is maintained through time. This leads to a second question: how best to smooth these distributions so that beneficiaries are not subjected to unsettling volatility in their support from the Commissioners.”

The Commissioners’ total charitable expenditure in 2009 was £190.8 million (£189.1 million in 2008). Total non-pensions expenditure, including support for ministry within dioceses and for the ministry of bishops and cathedrals, totalled £81.6 million in 2009 (£84.8 million), following a reduction in bishops’ and other administrative costs of £3.5 million. Governance costs and other resources expended were £1.8 million in 2009 (£3.6 million).

Dioceses have welcomed the mission development funding for giving them flexibility outside their normal budgetary commitments. It has given them headroom for risk-taking and creativity to enable churches to experiment with different forms of engagement with their communities. Examples include the appointment of a sports ambassador in Southwell and Nottingham diocese, and of a pioneer minister attached to Gloucester cathedral, who has helped build a new church community of 60 starting from none.

“Our task is to develop proposals on how best the Commissioners’ funds should be used to advance the Church’s mission”, Mr Whittam Smith concluded. “We don’t start with a clean sheet. Some distributions are determined by legislation. Other long established distributions are quite properly relied upon by recipients. Substantial sums are made available to poorer dioceses. Yet alongside these existing dispositions, new funding for mission is already bearing fruit.”

Continued below the fold


*(See paragraph two). The comparator group quoted is the WM All Funds Universe. It is a collection of the investment results of UK pension funds and is widely used as an independent measure of the performance of funds. There were 218 funds in the 2009 universe, and there were 159, 139 and 100 funds that have been included in the sample for the last five, 10 and 20 years respectively.

The 28 April announcement of the Commissioners’ annual results is available here.

The Commissioners’ responsibilities:

The Church Commissioners exist to support the ministry of the Church of England, through:

  • Supporting poorer dioceses with ministry costs
  • Providing funds to support mission activities
  • Paying for bishops’ ministry and some cathedral costs
  • Administering the legal framework for pastoral reorganisation and closed church buildings
  • Paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998
  • Running the national payroll for serving and retired clergy.

The Commissioners:

  • contribute 16p in the pound to the cost of the Church of England’s mission – most of the balance coming from the giving of today’s Church members.
  • manage their investments within ethical guidelines, advised by the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.
  • pay for all clergy pensions earned up to 1998 – pensions since then are paid for by dioceses, largely from money donated by parishioners.
  • pay the stipends and working costs of all the Church of England’s bishops (plus the housing costs of all diocesan bishops) in support of their local and national ministries.
  • provide more than £40 million each year in support for parish ministry, primarily to less-resourced dioceses.
  • support the mission of the Church’s cathedrals by paying the stipends of the dean and two residentiary canons of most cathedrals and making other cathedral grants.
  • encourage innovative uses for churches no longer in use for worship.
  • support the administration of parish reorganisation and give grants to other Church bodies.
  • manage the national payroll for serving and retired clergy.

The Commissioners’ fund is a closed fund, taking in no new money.


The Queen Anne’s Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners joined in 1948 to form the Church Commissioners. Queen Anne’s Bounty was a charity founded in 1704 to help poor clergy. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners were given the estates belonging to bishops and cathedrals, so they could fund their ministry as well as the Church’s ministry into new urban areas.

The 33 Church Commissioners are:

  • the two Archbishops;
  • three Church Estates Commissioners, who represent the Church Commissioners in General Synod and (Second Commissioner) in Parliament;
  • eleven people elected by General Synod: four bishops, three clergy, four lay people;
  • two deans
  • nine people who are appointed by the Crown and the Archbishops;
  • six ex-officio members: the Prime Minister, the Lord President of the Council, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Speakers of both Houses of Parliament.
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