Cost of bishops defended

SENIOR Church officials in Suffolk today defended the £127,500 cost of having two bishops in the county. They argue that, for the second consecutive year, the office and working costs of Suffolk's bishops fell, and they provide Christians with value for money.

By John Howard

SENIOR Church officials in Suffolk today defended the £127,500 cost of having two bishops in the county.

They argue that, for the second consecutive year, the office and working costs of Suffolk's bishops fell, and they provide Christians with value for money.

During last year, the total expenditure of the offices of the Rt Rev Richard Lewis, the bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, and the Rt Rev Clive Young, the bishop of Dunwich, was £127,534.

This is a decrease of £2,836, or 2.2%, from the 2001 figure and the saving during the past two years totals £3,636.

Michael Wilde, chairman of the diocesan board of finance, said: "Our bishops offer us wonderful value for money. They attended hundreds of services and meetings throughout the year.

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"What is not commonly known is that 95% of the bishops' costs are met by central Church funds and are not paid for by local church members.''

During 2002, the office and support staff costs were £85,833, up from £78,057 during 2001; individual working costs including the lease costs of the bishops' cars and travel expenses was £12,011 in 2002, down from £23,736 during 2001.

Other administrative and operational costs, which includes retreat costs, were £25,043 in 2002, up from £23,810 in 2001

And the costs of premises, which includes utilities and servicing of gardening and household appliances, was £4,647 during 2002, down slightly from £4,767 in 2001.

The total costs were £127,534 last year, down from £130,370.

The bishops are the spiritual and administrative leaders of the Church of England in the county. They have ultimate oversight of 150 parish clergy and another 250 trained church ministers. In addition, Bishop Lewis takes an active part in the work of the House of Lords.

Bishop Lewis is one of 43 diocesan bishops and Bishop Young is one of 70 suffragan or area bishops.

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