Parish Share Guide
Every parish in the Diocese of Coventry contributes towards the cost of parish ministers. The payment for each parish is calculated in two stages:
First, the cost of parish ministers is shared between the eleven deaneries in our diocese. This is called the Deanery Share.
Second, each deanery decides how best to allocate their Deanery Share among their own parishes. This is called the Parish Share.
The leaflet Our Parish Shares pay for Parish Ministers, first published in July 2013 and updated in November 2017, gives a straightforward guide to Parish Share in the Diocese of Coventry.
Alternatively, click here for a detailed explanation of how it is calculated.
The Support Fund
A deanery’s Share is based on its ‘cost of ministers’, with a central Support Fund to assist deaneries that need it. Each Share also includes a contribution to the Support Fund, and any surplus helps new initiatives for mission.
Every year, the amount of money that each deanery will pay into or receive from the Support Fund in the next year is agreed at the Support Fund Meeting. Representatives from each deanery spend the morning listening to each other speak about their area; this is followed by each deanery making either offers of or requests for support.
The payments in and out of the Support Fund must balance or make a surplus (any surplus is earmarked for the Diocesan Mission Fund). If the first round of offers and requests does not achieve that, the deanery representatives have time for prayer, discussion, and questions. The aim of these discussions is to reach unanimous agreement on the next year's payments.
For a full description of how this process works, click here.
Our parish shares pay for parish ministers
“In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
Our Parish Shares pay for Parish Ministers
The first function of a Parochial Church Council (PCC) is “co-operation with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church” (Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956). A church does this, in part, by paying for any costs of their minister and training for ministry, and thus the payment of Parish Share ought to be regarded as one of the PCC's most important priorities.
A survey done in 2012 showed that the parish share per ‘member’ in the Diocese of Coventry is just under the average across the country as a whole. For some this is affordable without significant sacrifice; for some this is affordable with significant sacrifice; and where this is not affordable, there needs to be a mechanism for mutual support or reducing the costs. The Deanery Share system in the Diocese of Coventry seeks to provide a mechanism for parish costs to be covered by parish shares, with mutual support where needed.
It is sometimes argued that the maintenance of a church building ought to be a higher priority. However, a PCC's responsibility in this area does not override their greater responsibility to promote the whole mission of the Church.
Our Parish Shares pay for parish ministers. The Church needs our ministers, and parishes need to pay their full Share.
Every parish in the Diocese of Coventry contributes towards the cost of parish ministers. The payment for each parish is calculated in two stages:
- First, the cost of parish ministers is shared between the eleven deaneries in our diocese. This is called the Deanery Share, and there is an explanation below of how Deanery Shares are calculated.
- Second, each deanery decides how best to allocate their Deanery Share among their own parishes. This is called the Parish Share, and there is an explanation below of how Parish Shares are calculated.
Just over half the dioceses in the Church of England use a one-stage process (where the diocese allocates the share directly to parishes). Just under half operate a two-stage process (where the central diocesan officers allocate the share to deaneries, who in turn allocate it to parishes). The Diocese of Coventry decided to move from the former to the latter in 2004.
A widespread review in 2009 revealed a high level of support for the two-stage approach in the Diocese of Coventry. After some initial difficulties, several deaneries reported that this new approach had helped to strengthen the relationship between parishes within their deanery.
How are Deanery Shares calculated?
2012 saw the introduction of a new system for calculating Deanery Shares in the Diocese of Coventry. Built upon on the principles of fairness, simplicity and transparency, it can be summarised as:
A deanery's share is based on its cost of minsters, with a cetnral Support Fund to assist deaneries that need it. The share also includes a contribution to the Support Fund, and any surplus helps new initiatives for mission.
This means that the only two factors affecting a deanery’s Share are the cost of its ministers and a payment to, or from, the Support Fund.
The new system was approved by Diocesan Synod in May 2010 with overwhelming support (56 voted in favour, 2 against and 1 abstention). This was the culmination of a two-year consultation period at parish, deanery and diocesan levels, led by a Parish Share Review/Consultation Group, which was comprised of a variety of individuals from around the diocese.
Everyone accepted the importance of "fairness, simplicity and transparency"; however, there is an inherent tension between these three principles. For example, the simplest systems are often deemed to be unfair, and fairest systems are too complex. One of the aims of the consultation was to find the right balance between these three principles.
The simplicity of the new system is reflected in the fact that it can be summarised in just two sentences.
A paper setting out the Deanery Share system as approved by Diocesan Synod in May 2010 can be found by clicking here.
The cost of ministers
The ‘cost of ministers’ in each deanery is determined by:
- The number of stipendiary clergy posts;
- The number of houses for parish clergy posts;
- The number of training shares.
A parish or benefice with one stipendiary post and one house costs £1,151 a week in 2020. This is about £59,862 per year.
Each deanery's cost of ministers is reduced slightly by the wedding and funeral fees that parishes forward to the Diocesan Office.
- Stipendiary costs cover a minister’s living allowance (called a ‘stipend’), pension contributions and National Insurance.
- Housing costs cover the repairs and refurbishment of a clergy house, Council Tax, Water Rates, professional fees and admin costs.
- Training costs cover the training for ministry (both ordained and lay). About 80% of these costs relate to the costs of training ordinands and the stipends and housing of curates where appropriate. This is an investment in the church of the future.
A full-time stipendiary minister’s stipend in 2020 costs:
- £26,815 for the stipend itself, plus
- £2,313 for the employer’s National Insurance, plus
- £9,814 for clergy pensions contribution
This makes £38,942 in total.
A house, whether for a stipendiary minister or a house-for-duty minister, in 2020 costs on average £7,054.
This includes the average cost of Council Tax, water rates, and the cost of repairs and refurbishment, including some improvements, buildings insurance, and the salary costs of the small housing team.
The diocesan budget for training is shared evenly across 108 “benefices”. In 2020 the share is £14,007 per “benefice” in the year (or £269 per week). A specific element of the Deanery Share system when it was approved by Diocesan Synod in 2010 was that the annual training costs’ budget should be specifically approved by Diocesan Synod at the same time as the DBF’s annual budget being approved.
In 2018 the training share was £13,889 per benefice. The breakdown of this, as approved by Diocesan Synod in November 2017, is as follows:
- £8,065 (58%) for curates’ stipends, NI, pension, first appointment and robe grants and housing and removal costs
- £3,000 (22%) for ordination candidates’ grants and expenses and the Diocese of Coventry share of national training costs
- £2,824 (20%) for other diocesan training costs, which include the costs of the Diocesan Training Partnership (the vocations process, the Bishop’s Certificate in Discipleship, ministerial development, the coordination of Ministerial Development Reviews and clergy and reader retreat grants).
As training is provided for stipendiary and non-stipendiary clergy and for the laity, the decision was made by Diocesan Synod to share training costs across all parishes, rather than just across those with a stipendiary minister. One ‘Training Share’ is allocated to each “benefice”.
For Deanery Share purposes, a “benefice” is not taken as the current benefices as defined by law. Instead, a “benefice” is more practically interpreted, normally meaning a parish, or group of parishes, overseen by an incumbent or priest in charge (whether stipendiary or not), with a team ministry being taken as the equivalent of multiple benefices.
Wedding and funeral fees
The Statutory Fees paid by parishioners and others for weddings and funerals have two components:
- The PCC Fee, which is retained by the PCC
- The DBF Fee, which is collected by the parish and then forwarded to the Diocesan Office
All the DBF Fees received by the Diocesan Office are then given back to parishes via the Deanery Share calculation. This means that ultimately parishes benefit from both components of the Statutory Fees.
(This is done at the Diocesan level by crediting the DBF fees received in one year against the deanery’s “Cost of Ministers” in the Deanery Share calculations prepared in the following year for the year after that. A full list of the fees received is provided to each Deanery. How this credit is shared within each deanery’s share allocation to parishes is a matter for each deanery. Some deaneries allocate the credit back to the parishes based on where the fees actually arose from. Others share the fees credit to share the benefit and reduce fluctuations from year to year. Others have different methods altogether.)
Working closely with the Bishop’s Staff, each deanery decides upon the number of clergy and houses that they need. This fixes their total ‘cost of ministers’, which is the primary component of a deanery’s Share.
Although the deployment of clergy is ultimately the Bishop's decision, in recent years all such decisions have been taken in close collaboration with the relevant Deanery Mission and Pastoral Committee.
If it is decided to reduce the number of clergy, houses or benefices, all of the cost savings are passed on the deanery (via the reduction of their Deanery Share).
Conversely, a deanery can increase their number of clergy, houses or benefices, if they are able to raise the additional Share.
The Support Fund
The second component of a deanery’s Share is a payment to, or from, the Support Fund. Some deaneries are more able to pay for the cost of their ministers than others, and the Support Fund provides financial assistance to those deaneries that need help with this.
A key feature of the Deanery Share system is that the deaneries agree among themselves the payments to and from the Support Fund. At an annual meeting, two representatives from each deanery seek to reach unanimous agreement about the payments for the following year.
Support Fund meetings have been held annually since 2011. They have been godly meetings punctuated with prayer, listening to one another, worship, silence and listening to God, and all have reached unanimous agreement about the Support Fund payments for the following year. As a sign of mutual support, each year has agreed that either four or five deaneries should receive financial assistance from the Support Fund.
The Church of England can take pride in its long-standing tradition of mutual support. Larger churches have supported smaller churches; churches in affluent areas have supported those in deprived areas. It's a tradition that has enabled the Church of England to maintain a Christian presence in every community.
All dioceses believe in mutual support; however, they differ in the way that this is calculated. Many use a complicated formula which typically uses a variety of factors to establish attendance and relative “wealth”, such as Sunday Attendance, Electoral Roll membership, the number of Christmas communicants, and census data about social deprivation. These factors are built into the Share calculation, ...and the end result is that most people feel that the calculation method penalises them unfairly, and many can produce data to demonstrate their case!
The Diocese of Coventry was one of the first to abolish the formula for calculating the levels of mutual support. Instead, two representatives from each deanery agree this among themselves each year in a Support Fund meeting. At this meeting these representatives worship God together, read the Bible together, listen to one another, and prayerfully discuss their Support Fund payments. The aim is to achieve unanimous approval of the assistance to be given from the Support Fund to those deaneries that need it in the next calendar year, and how that will be matched or exceeded by contributions to the Support Fund by the other deaneries. After this meeting, each Deanery Synod is asked to ratify their Support Fund payment. If a Deanery Synod is unhappy with their payment, they can appeal to the Bishop's Council before 30 September.
Usually the Area Dean and the Deanery Lay Chair are the deanery representatives at the Support Fund meeting, but if they do not wish to take on this role, their Deanery Synod can elect an alternative. Some diocesan officers are on hand to facilitate the Support Fund meeting, but they have no vote; all decisions are taken by the deanery representatives alone.
Central costs and vacancies
The factors affecting a deanery’s Share are the cost of its own ministers and a payment to, or from, the Support Fund. This means that Bishops, Archdeacons, Coventry Cathedral and the Diocesan Office do not affect the Deanery Share calculation (with the exception of the training costs mentioned above).
Some of these central costs relate to recruitment and relocation of parish clergy, and retired clergy covering services during vacancies. This is one of the reasons why parishes are expected to pay their full Share during a vacancy. It also avoids other central costs being recovered through Shares, and it reduces the risk of parishes needing to raise income when a new minister arrives.
A fuller explanation regarding the funding of central costs can be found below; however, a simple explanation is that they are approximately the same as diocesan income from grants, historical investments, and savings made during vacancies. Therefore there is no need for these to be included in the calculation of Deanery Shares.
For the sake of simplicity, DBF Central costs, Glebe investment and other income and savings from vacancies between ministers are omitted from the Deanery Share system calculations. This is because, in total, they cancel each other out. Therefore, the Deanery Share system does not attempt to find a fair basis for sharing these elements between the Deaneries.
Strictly speaking, the actual ‘Cost of ministers’ is less than the cost of budgeted posts as per the Deanery Share system, because in practice there are savings from vacancies between ministers. Also, the DBF receives income from Glebe investments and from certain other sources which is to help pay for ministers’ stipends. However, the DBF has some ‘central costs’ to be paid for somehow. Strictly therefore, part of the parish share is used to cover central costs.
Effectively, the Deanery Share system restricts the total parish share to no more than what would be needed to cover the ‘Cost of Ministers’ if there were no income from other sources to contribute towards the cost of clergy stipends.
In the 2015 budget, the central costs were in fact budgeted at £96,607 less than these elements, with this net saving being used to reduce the total Deanery Shares, in line with a commitment made in June 2014 to subsidise the Support Fund by the cost of 1.77 posts.
To provide greater transparency for those who wish to understand these three elements in greater detail, further explanation is given below.
1. 'Central costs' include the following:
- Resettlement and first appointment grants and fees payments to retired clergy
- Stipends/salaries and expenses of the Archdeacons and their PA (a significant proportion of whose time is spent as a result of vacancies)
- Stipends, salaries and expenses for those involved in ministry across the diocese rather than in specific parishes, including the chaplains at two universities and part-time at Blue Coat Church of England School, the Healthy Churches Development Mentor, a Transforming Communities Officer and the Director of Communications
- Expenses (but no stipends or salaries) for the Deans of Self Supporting and Women’s Ministry, the Rural Life and Stewardship Officers, the Inter-faith Advisor, the Warden of Readers and members of DBF/diocesan committees
- Grants to the Coventry Diocesan Board of Education and to Work Care
- Salaries and expenses costs for staff engaged in, managing or supporting central diocesan activities including safeguarding, DAC support, synodical administration, diocesan organisation, finance and HR
- Premises and IT/communications costs of the Diocesan Office at 7 Priory Row, Coventry
- Insurance costs (Various policies including cover for 7 Priory Row, DBF employers and public liability, trustee indemnity)
- Professional fees including audit, the Diocesan Registrar’s retainer (for parish as well as diocesan work) and the Registrar’s and the Chancellor’s fees incurred by parishes on faculties
- National Church costs approved by General Synod for the Archbishop’s Council, Mission Agencies’ Pension Contributions and the Church's Housing Assistance for the Retired Ministry (CHARM) scheme
The total budget for ‘Central costs’ included in the DBF 2018 budget approved by Diocesan Synod was £2,891,920 (in round thousands of pounds).
2. Glebe investment and other income: The DBF normally receives income from other sources into its Operating Funds (the General Fund, the Stipends Income Fund and the Ordination Candidates’ Fund) which includes the following:
- Glebe investment income: In 1978, following the Endowments and Glebe Measure 1976, the DBF became the legal owner of all glebe land vested in benefices in the diocese. Some of the Glebe investment income comes from re-investment of the sales proceeds where Glebe land has been sold
- Income from other investments and deposits
- Mission Development Funding from the Church Commissioners
- Income from The King Henry VIII Endowed Trust, Warwick, to pay for the costs of ministers in the parishes of the Warwick Team and Budbrooke. (As the costs of these ministers are funded by this trust, they are omitted from the ‘Costs of Ministers’ for the Warwick & Leamington Deanery in the Deanery Share calculations)
- Rental income from spare vicarages and DBF houses, some of which comes from lettings during vacancies between ministers, some of which comes from lettings of houses which have been for curates or central diocesan clergy posts
- Grants from the Allchurches Trust
- Collections for the Ordination Candidates’ Fund
The total budget for ‘Glebe investment and other income’ included in the DBF’s 2018 budget, after Glebe management expenses, other attributable Glebe costs, the cost of ministers funded by the King Henry VIII Endowed Trust and a fees income timing adjustment, was £1,113,075.
3. Savings from vacancies: Vacancies were discussed at length during the two-year consultation period prior to agreement on the new Deanery Share system. In order to cover central costs, there are only two real options:
- Parishes continue to pay their full Share during a vacancy (which is the current system)
- Parishes pay a smaller Share during a vacancy, but then pay a larger Share at other times (to cover some of the central costs)
The main problem with the second option is that it would result in a sudden increase in Parish Share when the new Vicar is appointed (at a time when they've got more important things to think about).
In 2018, the cost saving from vacancies between ministers was budgeted at £467,000 (in round thousands of pounds), although it should be noted that the true savings from vacancies are much lower than this amount, due to the costs of resettlement and first appointment grants, fees payments to retired clergy and the stipends/salaries and expenses of the Archdeacons and their PA, a significant proportion of whose time is spent on filling vacancies. (These costs are all included in ‘Central costs’.)
How are Parish Shares calculated?
As soon as the Deanery Shares have been calculated (usually in September), each deanery can then work out how much each parish should pay. The sum of these Parish Shares must cover the Deanery Share.
Every deanery has the freedom to determine Parish Shares using any method that they choose. Such methods need to find the right balance between fairness, simplicity and transparency; your PCC Treasurer or Area Dean should be able to provide details of the method that is used in your deanery.
Often an agreement about next year’s Parish Share is reached at a meeting between clergy and lay representatives from each parish or benefice. This works best when there is a strong commitment to mutual support and generosity.
Whatever the method that is used by your deanery, the key message is that: our Parish Shares pay for parish ministers.
The responsibility for calculating Parish Shares was delegated to deaneries in 2004. Each deanery was allowed to choose any method they wanted, and the various methods adopted have evolved over time.
About half the deaneries now use a method that is similar to that used for calculating Deanery Shares. In other words, they first distribute their 'cost of ministers' among their parishes/benefices, and then this is adjusted (either up or down) to take account of mutual support. These deaneries use various different methods to determine the level of mutual support payments.