Briefing: LINC SDF Funding

July 1, 2022

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Archbishops' Council expects to award £102 million through Lowest Income Communities (LInC) and £60 million through Strategic Development (SDF) in the current triennium. Review of LInC and SDF aims to help the national Church use its resources more accountably. Strategic Investment Board report assesses impact of LInC and SDF funding streams. Review was commissioned to look at how they can be used in the future. The effectiveness of the two funding schemes is affected by the lack of trust and unity of purpose between them.

Dioceses should be encouraged to use LInC funding to refresh ministry in the poorest areas. The SIB should seek projects that address critical missional challenges for which there is no current proven solution. The Lowest Income Communities (LInC) funding stream helps dioceses sustain the Church's reach and presence in communities that might well otherwise lose it. LInC supports 1,700 parishes, with an average of £14,000 allocated per parish supported. We recommend maintaining current levels of LInC funding for the remainder of the transition period, and adjusting for changes in average clergy costs.

The SIB has awarded £176.7 million to dioceses since its inception in 2014, with a further £14.7m expected in 2022. The Social Development Fund (SDF) has supported projects in 39 dioceses and committed £74 million to deprived areas. 80% of projects funded since 2017 were rated Green or Amber-Green by the SDU. The SDU has reported regularly on how projects supported by SDF have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. The SDU has been able to track some social action activities, but cannot fully represent the impact of social transformation.

SDF-funded churches are working with police to enable parole conversations and leading conversations around modern slavery. They are providing support for the Covid-19 pandemic and unemployment, troubled families, and debt. The number of Fresh Expressions of Church (FXCs) has grown by 44% in SDF-supported dioceses between 2014/15 and 2018/19. The SDU should invest in a grants management system to help them track and report on project outcomes. The Church is discouraged from submitting projects in rural areas, despite the prevalence of rural poverty.

The Archbishops' Council should direct the SIB on which categories of worshippers and communities to focus its resources on. The Innovation Fund should pilot potential solutions to unresolved missional challenges across a diversity of traditions. The time-horizon for projects to be self-financing has lengthened from three to five years, but many dioceses believe that this is still too short. Some projects may not appear to be sustainable in their own right, but if those who benefit remain engaged with the Church, the investment may pay off. The SDU's work on sharing learning was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Communication, obtaining local buy-in and empowering the local population were important. The future of SDF and LInC should be considered as part of the Church of England's long-term plan. The SIB should encourage, facilitate and finance more network projects. Partnership approach to Strategic Capacity Funding can help dioceses improve their strategic and project management. The Archbishops' Council should direct the SIB on which categories of worshippers and communities to focus its resources on.

The Strategic Investment Board (SIB) should study the skills and attributes that missional leaders need, and the wider Church should consider working with TEIs to improve training. SIB should monitor and report on the diversity of project leaders and worshippers, and encourage the presence and voice of members of UKME/GMH communities. The review panel should publish a report by the end of 2021, with recommendations for the SIB. It should assess what went well and what can be learned from the past.