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Diocese 'spiralling debt' claim denied

By Rachael Doeg on Thursday, 10th May 2001.

CLAIMS that the Diocese of St Edmunsbury and Ipswich was heading a debt of more than 760,000 by 2005 have been rebutted.
The suggestions, made in the Sunday Telegraph, were based on information gathered from the Church Commissioners last summer.
Diocesan communications director Nick Clarke branded the figures "nonsense" and added: "Accounts for the financial year 2000 are just being completed, and although a final figure has not yet been included, we are operating in the black."
The newspaper stated that debts for the current financial year were calculated to be 270,000, mounting to 737,000 by 2003, and by 2005 they would reach 761,000.
Nicholas Edgell, diocesan secretary, said: "The analysis done on the information gathered by the Church Commissioners has led to an inaccurate picture of church finances being produced.
"While nationally the Church of England may need to acknowledge that some dioceses are in trouble, St Edmunsbury and Ipswich is operating in the black.
"Furthermore, a financial review being carried out by the Archbishops' Council is recommending that Suffolk pays more to central church funds, as it is seen as being better off than many of its counterparts."
He added: "We're at the top of the league not the bottom, rather like our soccer team."
Mr Clarke said since 1996, when the diocese was carrying debts of 4 million, both the current secretary and the Diocesan Board of Finance had managed to turn the situation around via a major structural reorganisation and financial overhaul.
He added that the information the Church Commissioners received from the diocese last summer was, he believed, partial and based on certain questions asked.
Mr Edgell said: "I very much hope that when officers of the National Church gather this kind of information in the future, they will do so in conjunction with experienced diocesan staff.
"Dioceses need to be asked pertinent questions so that subsequent analysis can never again produce this erroneous and misleading conclusion."

Haverhill Weekly News

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