The Church Commissioners for England have announced their 2014 financial results with the publication of their annual report.

The Church Commissioners’ total return on its investment in 2014 was 14.4 per cent. The Commissioners exceeded their long-term target rate of RPI + 5 percentage points. Over the past 30 years the fund has achieved an average return of 9.8% per annum. After taking account of expenditure the fund has grown from £2.4bn at the start of 1995 to £6.7billion at the end of 2014.

In 2014 the charitable expenditure of the Commissioners was almost £215 million accounting for 16% of the Church’s overall mission and ministry costs. Independent research carried out at the end of 2014 suggested the Commissioners were one of the largest charitable givers in the UK and the eighth largest globally.* Commissioner funded projects ranged from clubs and drop-ins to youth work and food bank hubs, all supported by local churches.

The Commissioners expended £123 million in supporting pensions for retired clergy.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, said: “Through continued strong ethical and sustainable financial performance we help provide for the spiritual and numerical growth of the Church of England. We continue to identify and help fund the Church’s work and mission in communities throughout England.”

Examples of funding provided in the report include:

• Supporting ministry costs in dioceses with fewer resources
• Providing funds to support strategic mission activities like:
• Supporting “Sensing Salvation” in Ely which works with two non-church schools running innovative arts projects
• Providing funding in Bristol where Rachel Hepburn’s mission work is funded by a grant to act as a community line worker in a new housing development
• Funding for the Burnside Youth and Community centre in Langley. A grant supports the work of the Children’s centre activities, running holiday play schemes and providing a safe, stimulating and positive environment judged to be Outstanding by OFSTED
• Financial support of fresh expressions of Church such as the Holy Ground service at Exeter Cathedral

Growth and diversification:
Notable performance was delivered in property, private credit and timber. The property markets in which the Commissioners are invested were strong across the board and totalled just under £2bn at the end of 2014 with an average return of 27%, predominantly from capital growth, including realised gains on sales.

The private credit portfolio which started in 2012 saw two new commitments in 2014 totalling £51million. In total these strategies generated a combined return of 10.2% in 2014.

The Church Commissioners, with the recent purchase of forests in Scotland and Wales, also became the largest private owner of forestry in the UK. The timberland and forestry portfolio delivered a total return of 22.3% in 2014.

Responsible investment:
The Church Commissioners’ ambition is to be at the forefront of responsible investment practice. In 2014 the Commissioners appointed Edward Mason as Head of Responsible Investment, underscoring their commitment to the UN Principles of Responsible Investment. The Church Commissioners are actively integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues into investment analysis and decision-making.

The Church Commissioners have just won the Best implementation of Responsible Investment category at the Portfolio Institutional Awards 2015 where they were praised for strategic engagement with companies, their record on sustainability and the integration of ESG into investment decision-making.

pdf iconThe Church Commissioners Annual Report 2014

pdf iconThe Church Commissioners Annual Report 2014 The Church Commissioners Annual Review 2014