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Anglican diocese of Leeds in serious financial crisis

Anglican diocese of Leeds in serious financial crisis
C of E's largest diocese draws up plan to tackle £3m deficit, with staff facing redundancies

Harriet Sherwood. Religion correspondent
https://www.theguardian.com/
30 July 2018

Leeds diocese was created in 2014 following the dissolution of the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

The Church of England's largest diocese, Leeds, is facing a serious financial crisis, forcing it to make staff redundant, close its pension scheme and review salaries.

The diocese of Leeds has drawn up an action plan in an effort to tackle a £3m deficit. It has told staff that up to 14 people will lose their jobs, inviting them to apply for voluntary redundancy. It may also impose compulsory redundancies.

Its defined benefit pension scheme will close at the end of the year. It will reduce four pay scales to one, and evaluate jobs "to ensure the correct levels of pay" have been set.

A letter sent to all members of the Leeds diocesan synod -- its ruling body -- said the diocese had run a "significant deficit in 2017 and continues to do so".

The proposals to tackle this had been explained to staff, and a number of them had been given "very difficult news", the letter said. Synod members were asked to "keep them in your prayers through this difficult time".

Leeds diocese was created in 2014 following the dissolution of the dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds, and Wakefield.

It employs 110 people. A spokesperson declined to say what would happen to the pension arrangements for remaining staff after redundancies, or whether they may face pay cuts.

C of E dioceses operate largely independently from the national institution. Their income comes mainly from parishes, investments and endowments. The C of E nationally contributes towards the costs of the diocesan bishop. Parish priests and clergy are paid from diocesan funds.

There are 460 parishes in the diocese of Leeds, with 356 paid clergy. Last year, there was a shortfall of just over 11% in payments from parishes to the diocese.

In a statement, the diocese said it was "consolidating its structures and resources", adding: "The financial challenges that predated the creation of the diocese now need to be addressed in the light of a comprehensive and detailed appraisal of our income/expenditure. We are bringing the budget in line with the diocesan strategy and concentrating our resources purposefully on those areas.

"The measures needed to deliver a balanced budget will impact on the organisation and staff in different ways. We are deeply concerned for all members of our staff teams and all impacted by the decisions we need to take."

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