Income from C of E parishes tops £1 billion for the first time

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The Church of England's income from parishes topped £1 billion for the first time in 2015, despite an apparently ongoing decline in church attendance.

The latest figures show the 12,600 parishes brought in £1.03 billion, up from £989 million in 2014.

At the same time, expenditure hit a record £971 million, leaving parishes with a surplus of £54.4 million, the largest for a decade, The Times reported.

A third of the income, which was the largest proportion, came from planned donations while six per cent, or £57.2 million, came from collections during services. Other sources of the income included grants, income from property and gift aid on donations.

The so-called 'share' from parishes, paid to their local dioceses, accounted for more than a third of expenditure, while running costs, repairs and salaries each covered about a tenth of overall spending.

Despite the record high when it comes to income, this is not in real terms: the 2007 intake of £899 million would have been worth £1.1 billion in 2015.

'While parish income and planned giving have been increasing over the last decade, so has parish expenditure,' the Parish Finance Statistics report said. 'For parishes to continue their work supporting communities, income must continue to not only increase but keep pace with inflation.'

The report pointed out that the rise in the cost of living and stagnation of wages have raised demand for support such as food banks.

The church has assets of almost £8 billion, which is controlled by church commissioners, who saw a return of more than 17 per cent on investments last year.

Figures published last year showed that the number of people attending Church of England services each week fell the first time to below 1 million – accounting for less than two per cent of the population – with Sunday attendances falling to 760,000.

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