This time last year I was reporting on a financially stable year. However, this year has been more challenging with our balances about to be at their lowest level for some years.
We are not in serious trouble and your generosity continues at its usual high level. The issue is that we have had, and continue to have, a year of unusually high expenditure in maintaining the fabric of our beautiful church.
I think it is worth looking at the major items:
- Boundary Wall £25K
- Electrical Repairs £5K
- Passage Lights Upgrade £5k
- Drains Repair £4K
- New Sound system £2K
Within the last few days we have been notified that the cost of upgrading the Presbytery Fire Alarms for multi occupancy will be at least £10K. This upgrade is a mandatory requirement as we want to be able to continue having visiting priests and religious to live in the Presbytery and be part of our community.
This work will take place over the next few weeks.
This gives a total of about £50K and it is this which has depleted our balances to the predicted level of £14K in the current account and £30K in our deposit account. In our experience the age and condition of our church and the possible need for urgent repairs requires that these predicted balances are the minimum acceptable level. The balances I reported a year ago were £22K and £63K respectively – this is a drop of £41K.
In addition we have one big project waiting in the wings. This is the repair to the presbytery stonework, this will be a six-figure sum, a challenge for future years.
In the year ahead we need to rebuild our balances and develop a strategy to raise the £100K for the stonework. I know we can depend on your continued generosity and a special thanks to those of you in the Gift Aid scheme. This raised nearly £10k in the last year. If you are a taxpayer and have not joined the scheme I would encourage you to do so; it is not too bureaucratic and all personal date is protected. Please see Andy Doyle or check our website to see how to join.
In addition, if you have a standing order with the Parish, it may be worthwhile to see if it has been de-valued in any way by inflation over the years.
Also, as you know, under the diocesan development programme, ‘Forward Together in Hope’ we have started to work more closely in partnership with neighbouring parishes. A Partnership Finance Committee continues to operate with an annual budget of £5K for which our contribution will be £950 per year, based on an affordability calculation as specified by the Diocese. As well as giving financial advice to the Partnership, this committee reviews any project above £10k and advises the Diocese as to whether a project fits in the overall needs of the partnership. This is particularly important right now because of the ongoing property review by all members of our Partnership. The year ahead will see these new processes continuing to unfold and become an important part of our Parochial life.
In conclusion, the year ahead will present us with continuing financial challenges and more changes as we work within the new Partnership framework. I feel sure that your continuing generosity will see us through.
Chairman of the Parish Finance Council