TREASURER’S MESSENGER ARTICLE NOVEMBER 2023
I’ve had a busy summer, so this is my first Messenger article since the one following the Annual Parish Meeting in April. Apologies to those who feel that the wait has been too long!
The PCC met recently and I was able to give an update on the Parish’s financial position at the moment, and also to look at how things might progress in 2024. We had some fruitful discussions about the challenges that lay ahead and I was asked to share our thoughts with you through The Messenger.
Firstly, it is clear that under the leadership of our vicar Peter we have a friendly, vibrant and welcoming church, both at Holy Trinity and at St Mark’s and, to my mind, this is primarily due to the huge amount of work undertaken by all those who give of their time and talents so willingly. Finance, i.e. money so generously given by you and others, also plays its part and it is always worth reminding ourselves that, as a charity, our church receives nothing other than that which we ourselves donate or raise.
In 2023 we need to raise, in round figures, £105,000 to cover our day-to-day running costs. After receiving a grant from the Diocese earlier this year, and by judicious use of reserves, I was able to reassure the PCC that we should just be able to cover these costs.
This is assuming that income during November and December is at least the same as in 2022. This included almost £3000 from the Advent Fair, so please encourage everyone that you know to come along to support this event.
The PCC’s collective sigh of relief for 2023 quickly dissipated when we started to look at finances for 2024:
It will come as no surprise that the effects of inflation will continue to impact on our ability to cover costs, unless there is a substantial increase in income through Generous Giving and fundraising. Not only that, but we have been insulated from the worst effects of inflation this year for a number of reasons:
- Diocesan grants: we received £3658 this year and we have received over £75000 in total since 2017. The Diocese has indicated that it would be difficult to continue this into 2024, particularly as we are not considered to be a ‘less affluent’ parish.
- Gas & electric: I have recently had to renew our contracts after the previous three-year fixed deals came to an end. Unlike our household bills, there is no ‘cap’ on commercial contracts so our costs are likely to be about £5000 higher in 2024.
- Use of Reserves: in 2023 we will have reduced the General & Graveyard Reserves to the minimum prudent levels, so this source of money cannot be used in 2024. We are fortunate in having sufficient funds in the ‘Fabric’ Reserve, following generous legacies last year, to cover ongoing expenditure on the structure of Holy Trinity.
- Extra Gift Aid: In 2023 we will receive almost £5000 from the ‘one-off’ effect of switches from Standing Order to Direct Debit for Planned Giving monthly payments. Thirty-three switches have been made but their Gift Aid will be back to normal levels next year. There are still a good number of standing orders that could be switched, so please let me know if you wish to do this – it will help our finances in 2024 without costing you a penny more.
- Parish Share: this forms the largest part of our expenditure and inflationary increases have a proportionate effect. This year the ‘Share’ has gone up by £10000 and naturally the PCC were keen to analyse why this was so, and whether it could in any way be ‘wrong’.
Our conclusion was that the request is fair based on the criteria used to make the calculation and that whilst the increase will compound our difficulty in balancing the books, it is only right that we strive to pay the Share in full.
Of particular concern to the PCC was the fact that, as for similar parishes, a proportion of the Share is used by the Diocese to help those parishes that are far worse off than ourselves. We are keen to show that our generosity does not stop at our own doorstep, and that we continue to support the Diocese ambition to share God’s word as widely as possible.
In conclusion, our finances are sound and for the last seven years we will have covered all our expenditure, including Parish Share, which is no mean feat given the demands of looking after our historic buildings, and the impact of the covid epidemic.
It looks as though 2024 will be the most challenging year in my time as Treasurer, in terms of balancing the budget. However, the solution is out of my hands – the facts are as they are and I am sure that the congregation and other friends of the Parish will rise to the challenge as they have done in the past.
Treasurer, Holy Trinity & St Mark’s