Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Saturday, 28 November 2009

Diocese budget puts jobs at risk

Winchester Cathedral
The diocese covers parts of Dorset and Hampshire

The Diocese of Winchester has decided to cut its budget by £1.6m, which could lead to three university chaplains and other staff losing their jobs.

In May the diocese issued a draft 2010 budget for consultation predicting it would need £13.3m for running costs.

But the figure was reduced because parishes said they could not meet the 3.8% increase in their contributions because of the recession.

The revised budget was adopted at a meeting on Saturday.

The Diocese of Winchester covers an area from Bournemouth in Dorset to Andover and Basingstoke in north Hampshire. It also covers the Channel Islands.

If we didn't reduce our budget for next year then we would find ourselves in difficulty by next summer
Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester

Amongst those at risk of losing their jobs are a communication officer, Canon Missioner, schools advisor and several clergy.

The cuts could also lead to parishes merging, while the diocesan newspaper, The Vine, could be axed.

The chaplains whose jobs are threatened are based at Southampton University, Southampton Solent Uni­versity, and Bournemouth and Poole College.

Loss of income

Michael Scott-Joynt, Bishop of Winchester, said: "The Diocese of Winchester is dependent on the generous giving of parishioners.

"We have very little historic income, and we face the likelihood of less income from the parishes next year than we would need to sustain all our present expenditure through 2010.

"Every voluntary organisation, certainly every Christian voluntary organisation, in the present financial times is seeing a loss of voluntary income.

"It's not surprising that we are among those.

"We realised in the summer that while the diocese was in no financial difficulty this year, if we didn't reduce our budget for next year then we would find ourselves in difficulty by next summer."

He said final decisions about the job cuts have not been made yet and the diocese would explore options for "other funding" for threatened posts.

"You may talk about posts but this is people and there are a number of pieces of work that we can no longer sustain," the bishop said.

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