The Bishoprics and Cathedrals department of the Church
Commissioners supports the ministry of bishops by owning and
maintaining diocesan bishops' houses and by funding the stipends
and working costs - mainly secretarial and support staff salaries -
of all serving bishops, diocesan and suffragan.
These obligations, and those in respect of cathedrals, came
about because some of the Commissioners' investment assets derive
from property that was originally part of the estates belonging to
bishops and cathedral chapters.
Some bishops' houses are historic properties such as Wells and
Auckland Castle (Durham), including the two Archbishops' palaces at
Lambeth and Bishopthorpe (York). But most have been bought or built
more recently. A big replacement programme took place in the 1950s
and others have followed. The task of ensuring that the properties
work well as living, working and office space continues.
From 2008 bishops' working costs have been funded from 'global'
budgets, designed to increase bishops' flexiblity over budgeting
and spending decisions while ensuring overall cost control.
The department also manages the Commissioners' support for
cathedral ministry, namely the payment of stipend for the dean and
two full-time residentiary canons at each cathedral (apart from
Christ Church Oxford), plus grants towards the administrative costs
of some cathedrals. These grants are used mainly for lay staff
salaries and vary in size according to the financial needs of the
The department works to the authority of the Commissioners'
Bishoprics and Cathedrals Committee and, in the case of managing
the properties, the Assets Committee. Some policy decisions also
fall to the Board.