FINANCE AND RESOURCES
Each parish is required by Canon Law to have a Finance Committee whose role is to advise the Parish Priest on all significant financial items. One key purpose is to support the Parish Priest so that he can concentrate on his pastoral and priestly ministry. Our committee meets monthly and covers buildings and resources as well as finance.
As things return to normal, we will have an open meeting to discuss finance and resources in full detail. In the meantime, this is intended as an initial overview of the current position.
The current members are Tad Matus (chair), Canon Kieron, Ben Gray, Simon Keane, David Miller, Janine Nahapiet, Ted Osborn, Nick Wells with AnnMarie Klein as Administrator.
INCOME AND EXPENDITURE
The parish relies for its income on two main sources – the offertory and donations given by parishioners, and rental income received through the property we own. In our case we are hugely reliant on the rental income, as the offertory covers less than half of our running expenses.
We are required to pay part of the costs of the Diocese, and local major expenditure notably the costs of heating the churches, normal maintenance of our property, running the office, running liturgical and sacramental programmes, and the living expenses of the priests.
The priests have no direct income except the Christmas and Easter collections, and some fees received for dedicated masses.
Both of our churches are grade 2 star listed buildings (listed here and here). This national heritage grade is defined as particularly important buildings of more than special interest. We have the only two churches with this designation in the whole Diocese, beaten only by the cathedral which is grade 1. It is wonderful to have these environments at the heart of our worship, but with it also come particular responsibilities and costs. We are very limited in any alterations we make, so that the original inside and out is preserved, and every repair has to use heritage contractors and materials at significant cost.
The parish also owns the Fitzherbert Centre at St John the Baptist, including the church hall, the presbyteries at both churches (the one at St Joseph’s being rented out to the Wellspring Community), the church hall at St Joseph’s, and one house in Elm Grove also rented to the Wellspring Community.
Both church halls and the house in Elm Grove require significant repair and renovation.
The parish benefits from a significant fund formed by the proceeds of the sale of St Francis’ church, together with a bank balance previously held by St John the Baptist parish. That balance and a significant part of the sale proceeds were spent on the renovations to the Fitzherbert Centre and SJB presbytery. Another £150,000 was spent on the internal renovation at St Joseph’s – primarily a new floor and glass screening. The Diocese expects these funds to be used for capital projects that fulfil our parish mission: Loving Jesus, living and sharing our faith, welcoming all. £175,000 from the St Francis sale is being invested in the new Fitzherbert Community Hub development to provide improved parish facilities and a social hub to relieve food poverty and reduce social isolation in Kemp Town. The remainder is being held for the next strategic developments – one of the key areas under consideration is the future of St Joseph’s Hall.
|offertory||58021||79829||staff and pastoral costs –||58669||70417|
|donations and legacies||17124||15462||gas, electricity, water etc||39883||38851|
|rents and hiring||74155||93800||property repairs||24570||45825|
|gift aid||15848||17409||diocesan levy||26369||32948|
Within staff and pastoral costs the main elements are
Young people’s ministry £20,830 in 2020, £25,080 in 2019
And staff payroll £20,144 in 2020, £21,272 in 2019
The clergy category includes Christmas and Easter offerings, donations for funerals, weddings and baptisms, domestic living expenses, and supply priests. In 2020 the Diocese, because of the covid disruption, set a minimum that each priest should receive at Christmas and at Easter. This minimum was higher than parishioners had given in previous years.
COMMENTARY – 2020 AND 2021 EXCEPTIONAL SITUATION
These have been extraordinary times for everyone. Individuals and families have suffered in many ways, including financially. In reporting on the financial position of the parish, we wish to acknowledge and thank parishioners for what they have done during this period to support the parish and each other.
However, the accounts show that we run at a loss. We made a loss of £7,300 in 2019, and the figures show a loss of £6,900 in 2020. However, in fact the 2020 figure should have been a greater loss, as significant expenditure on property maintenance (at least £25,000) had to be deferred into 2021 because of the difficulty of getting work done during lockdowns.
As for many others, the period since the Covid lockdown started in March 2020 has been financially difficult for our parish. Parishioner offertory stopped when the church closed and remains much lower than before –mass attendance is still less than half of what it was previously, we cannot pass anything along the rows at offertory time, and few people have switched to digital ways of contributing. Rents at the Fitzherbert Centre and St Joseph’s Hall were suspended during the full lockdowns, and hiring is still restricted.
On the other hand, most expenditure continued, with relatively little scope to cut costs. Some money was saved on heating the churches while they were closed, and one parish employee was furloughed for a period, but priest, office, property and pastoral costs continued.
The Easter offerings in both 2020 and 2021 and the Christmas offering all fell considerably below the minimum the Diocese would hope each priest received from the congregation. To reach this minimum we have had to more than double the amount given from the parish bank account.
We are still running at a loss each month.
MOVING AWAY FROM CASH
Soon we hope to return to something close to normal functioning. However, we will still need to be aware of minimising covid risks. One area of risk is handling cash. All notes and coins given have to be counted, and then bagged up and physically taken to a bank. We want to both minimise risk to parish staff, and to make sure we are using their time wisely. Banking cash is proving particularly difficult as there are no HSBC branches near the office, and the weight of coins is considerable. For reasons both of hygiene and saving staff time we strongly encourage people to switch to electronic means of payment – if at all possible – this can be by standing order, online payment, or contactless payment at mass.
GIFT AID – An opportunity and a priority
Gift aid is a government scheme for charities which enables us to claim an extra pound for every £4 given by parishioners who pay any tax (on earnings, pension, or investments). The requirement is simply that the person signs a simple form to enter the gift aid scheme, and then gives in a way that can be counted and claimed rather than in the open plate. Since we run at a loss it is particularly important in our parish that we do not lose this benefit. We already benefit significantly from this – by £15,848 in 2020. However, we are aware that the number of people signed up to gift aid here is unusually low, particularly at St John the Baptist. As a result, the parish is losing out on at least £8,000 each year.
We urge anyone not already signed up to contact the office, discuss any questions they may have and enable us to get the parish this very easy extra benefit.