YORK Minster has revealed the 'catastrophic' impact of the pandemic on its finances, with the publication of accounts for 2020 showing a £2 million loss.

The Dean of York, the Rt Revd Dr Jonathan Frost, said the 'unprecedented financial and economic emergency' caused by Covid-19 had required a 'rapid and resolute' response to protect the Minster's reserves and secure it as a going concern.

He revealed this had resulted, with great sadness, in the departure of 55 'valued colleagues from the Minster’s staff community,' as well as the closure of the Minster School.

The annual report and accounts of the Chapter of York, the governing body for the Minster show a net deficit of £2,317,000 for 2020 before gains on investments, compared to a surplus of £332,000 in 2019.

The report said the cathedral closed completely from mid-March until the end of June, and then reopened with Covid-secure measures and severely reduced capacity from July to October and in December.

This resulted in a drastic reduction in the total number of visitors and worshippers to the Minster in 2020 with just under 147,500, compared to almost 706,500 in 2019.

The largest single income stream - from sightseeing visitors - dropped by £3.7million from £5 million in 2019 to £1.3million last year, and overall total income decreased by 40 per cent to £6.5million, compared with £10.4million in 2019.

It said the loss in visitor income was partly offset by significant additional emergency grant support from the York Minster Fund and central Church of England funds, the very welcome underpinning of the Government’s furlough scheme and a small grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund Emergency Fund to cover reopening costs in summer 2020.

Operating costs for the year also educed by £1.2million as a result of reduced activity levels and the actions taken to achieve savings. However, overall after investment gains, Chapter experienced a £2m loss for the year, with a £2.5m loss on unrestricted funds offset by gains in restricted funds.

The Dean said: “Between April and May 2020, the Chapter of York provided decisive leadership and clear direction to enable and initiate a restructuring for sustainable growth.

"For Chapter, each word was significant, and provided a purposeful framework and context for the processes, decisions and actions that would follow: there would need to be a restructuring to reduce the Minster’s cost base, the restructuring would need to deliver the greater integration and effectiveness of work-streams; and a sustainable organisation, over the financial medium to long term, in which there could be growth - not merely survival - in every area of operational activity designed to deliver the Minster’s core purpose and mission.

“In two phases of restructuring, the Chapter of York took hard but, I believe, the right decisions: to close its Minster School; to secure the future of York Minster’s internationally renowned choral tradition, through a new partnership with St Peter’s School, York; and to work with elected staff representatives to deliver a process which saw, with great sadness, the departure of 55 valued colleagues from the Minster’s staff community."

He said Covid had changed the world and the Community at the Minster had come together to 'weather the storm with courage, with tenacity and with care for one another.'

He added: "We take heart from what was achieved during a time of great difficulty and affirm our commitment to continuing to serve one another, and to ‘Living Christ’s Story’ in our City, our Diocese and our Province – as the Minster has done for over 1000 years.”