York Minster Annual Reports & Accounts 2021

The Chapter of York, the governing body for York Minster, today published its Annual Report and Accounts for 2021. Whilst the continuing impact of the Covid pandemic once again created extremely challenging economic conditions, the boom in UK staycation holidays contributed to hopeful signs of recovery at York Minster.

The return of paying visitors, together with healthy retail sales, helped to reduce the cathedral’s year end deficit at 31 December 2021 to £805,000 – a significant deficit reduction from the previous year.

After intermittent periods of permitted re-opening for worship and limited visiting, a new wave of Covid resulted in the complete closure of the Minster from December 2020 until 17 May 2021. The cathedral reopened with strict Covid-secure measures in place, an online-only booking system for general admissions and more online worship opportunities so that people could continue to worship from home.

The Accounts to the year ended 31 December 2021 show a net deficit of £805,000 before taking into account any gains and losses on investments.  This compares to a deficit of £2,304,000 in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.

Incoming resources amounted to £7,143,000 in 2021 (£6,484,000 in 2020).  The £659,000 increase was principally due to a moderate recovery in visitor income (from £868,000 in 2020 to £2,025,000 in 2021) and a notable increase in shop income (£726,000 compared to £344,000 in 2020).  Whilst hugely encouraging, the full recovery of the visitor business will take time: at 226,700 the 2021 visitor figure is 60% behind the 2019 level. 

Total expenditure on mission was £7,948,000 (£8,788,000 in 2020) a decrease of £840,000 on the previous year. This was largely due to the lack of learning and outreach activities such as school visits and the absence of costs relating to the Minster School which closed in July 2020, due to the impact of the pandemic.

Chapter recorded a gain on investments of almost £3.3m in 2021 (up £335k on 2020).  However, much of this has been lost in the first months of 2022 due to stock market volatility, inflationary pressures, energy prices, the continuing impact of Covid in China and the global economic shock caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

These investments, together with Chapter’s property portfolio, have a total book value of £42.5m and are held for the long term. Income derived from them contributes to the revenue needed for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of York Minster and its precincts.

The Revd Canon Michael Smith, Acting Dean of York said:  “The tough decisions taken by Chapter in 2020, were vital in securing the cathedral’s future.  Those decisions have put us on the right track:  although we still finished 2021 with a deficit, it was much reduced on the previous year. We are in no doubt: there is still considerable work to do.  Careful stewardship of the cathedral’s resources will remain a priority for many years.

“We also continued to develop and work on the York Minster Precinct Neighbourhood Plan – a trail-blazing, collaborative community project led by the York Minster Neighbourhood Forum. The plan sets out a 15-year route map to create a sustainable future for the cathedral and its seven-hectare estate. It will carry significant weight in the determination of future planning applications within the Minster Precinct.  The plan was voted through in a community referendum in May and formally ratified by City of York Council. Its delivery will herald the biggest planned programme of works within the Minster Precinct for 150 years.

“This Annual Report and Accounts tell the story of an organisation still recovering from the impact of the global pandemic.  The return of worshippers, visitors and the local community in such great numbers for worship, services, events and exhibitions has been joyous. We are cautiously optimistic for the future but we are in no doubt that recovery will take time.”