Thinking Anglicans

CofE pensions: a scene-setting paper

A Church of England press release today is titled Update published on Clergy Pensions Scheme.

The Church of England has today published a paper on the impact of the credit crunch and recession on the financial position of the Funded Clergy Pension Scheme and what this might mean for the future of the scheme…

There is also a paper from the Task Group:

The Task Group comprises the Chairman of the Pensions Board (Dr Jonathan Spencer), the First Church Estates Commissioner (Andreas Whittam Smith) and the Chairman of the Archbishops’ Council’s Finance Committee (Andrew Britton) assisted by the Chief Officers of the three organisations and the Chief of Staff at Lambeth Palace. Their initial paper is available via the Church of England website here. (.doc file)

And it is also available as a more accessible web page at Scene-Setting Paper from Archbishops’ Task Group.

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StuartRev L RobertsSimon SarmientoRobert Ian Williamsmynsterpreost (=David Rowett) Recent comment authors
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dodgey_vicar
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dodgey_vicar

Anyone not see this one coming?
If the last shortfall was 140 million, then the review at the end of this year could easily show a 500 million deficit.

All they have to do now is remove the compulsory retirement age and let us old sods die in post at evensong, rather than throwing us out of our homes and our communities when we ‘retire’ and carry on working for them for free.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“All they have to do now is remove the compulsory retirement age and let us old sods die in post at evensong, rather than throwing us out of our homes and our communities when we ‘retire’ and carry on working for them for free.” Dodgey_Vicar

Well, Vicar, you could always move with F.i.F to Rome, where they are used to working until death without very substantial recompense.

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

Extraordinary how little comment this has attracted. First, to respond to DV, 141 million is not a lot of money and is two-year-old news. To break it down, 141 million is a pound per week for every person in Church on Sunday over less than two and a half years. And they are taking 15 years to make it up. That’s around 18 pence per parishioner per week. And you are very probably right about the sort of direction to look for in this year’s evaluation, which should be ready roughly summer 2010 or so, I imagine. Second, I note… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

Nom de P: “But if life is a constant struggle, living on poor wages in substandard housing with abusive working conditions, morale and mission will suffer.” Poor wages, substandard housing and abusive working conditions are, however, common to many of the people amongst whom the clergy work, though, aren’t they? Writing as an NSM who worked as a teacher in the very expensive South-East of England for many years, it always struck me that full-time clergy friends did very well for themselves by comparison: a four-bedroom house and no council tax are very substantial perks in areas where property prices… Read more »

David Walker
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David Walker

NdP raises some important points, I appreciate in particular the call for generosity among congregations. There are two areas on which I would like to comment. NdP is concerned about the contribution rate, at 40% being very high. The main reason for not being able to compare this figure sensibly with other Defined Benefit schemes is the fact that clergy in stipendiary service receive a house. This effectively depresses the stipend figure (were clergy required to provide their own accommodation the stipend would need to be at least 8-10K higher in UK currency – and hence the same pension would… Read more »

Ian C
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Ian C

Nom de Plume said “I note the current contribution rate of nearly 40%. That is an extraordinarily high price to pay for a pension.” The 40% is of the standard stipend, which is rather more than £20k. When the value of free housing in good sized properties, free maintenance, no council tax, no pension contributions etc is added in, the value of an equivalent lay salary is probably well over £30k (well over average UK earnings), which reduces the pension percentage to c25%. This is much closer to the total paid by employees and employers in most commercial defined benefit… Read more »

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

Fr Mark: “Poor wages, substandard housing and abusive working conditions are, however, common to many of the people amongst whom the clergy work” Yes, they are. They are no more right or just for the parishioners. Nor do these conditions justify inflicting them on clergy, either. The Church should, in my view, be an exemplary employer. It is, in my experience, a very poor employer. Clergy should not expect to become rich, but it is surely reasonable that they should be able to live decently. When a clergy family lives below the poverty line as a norm (and that is… Read more »

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
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Just a brief comment on the working conditions thing. I too came into the dog-collar after a life in the “real world”. Most of those with whom I taught (in “the gritty north east”) will retire with their houses paid for by the ludicrous increase in house prices these last thirty years. I made a profit on the one house we ‘owned’, most of which went into supporting us while I trained. It strikes me that the problem is that there is no such thing as ‘typical stipendiary’. Those of us of riper years were ordered to sell our houses… Read more »

Nom de Plume
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Nom de Plume

I have been struggling a bit about whether to reveal much about myself, as I have appreciated the anonymity of my Nom de Plume here. I will say this much: I am a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, formerly an IT professional. I have served on my diocesan clergy remuneration committee, and now serve on the General Synod Pension Committee. So I know one or two things about the topic, but from the other side of the pond, as it were. The Canadian scheme is a career-average plan that earns 2% of salary each year. I am looking… Read more »

Perry Butler
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Perry Butler

I am sure clergy want to keep the DB pension because you at least know where you stand-just think of those retiring now on a pension from a money purchase scheme.I take the point about the “typical stipendiary”, as clergy circumstances are now very different and the housing situation complicates things further.I hope that the worst scenario will be that the DB is kept but perhaps its benefits decreased-down to 60% of minimum stipend perhaps.But what about demographics-with the age at ordination at 40+ most new clergy will only clock up 20-25 yrs??.

Ian C
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Ian C

From across the pond, NdP claims that CofE clergy are turfed out on the street when they retire. Yes, stipendiary priests have to leave their current residence so their successor can move in. But if they have not already made provision for retirement housing (as the Church encourages them to do during working life), the Pensions Board will provide them with subsidised rented accommodation or some form of joint ownership of suitable property. These arrangements (CHARM etc) cost the Church (=parishes) several millions of £££ each year, and even more in grants to provide sheltered accommodation and nursing care from… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Yes but most Church of England ordained clergy have families to support. However with all the perks, (Council Tax paid, clergy private hospital, reductions in school fees and many with working professional wives) etc, it’s no wonder that Forwatd in Faith and Reform do not want to defect.

mynsterpreost (=David Rowett)
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I hate to sound as if I’m being weaselly, but does anyone remember the CofE report ‘generosity and sacrifice’? If I remember correctly, the formula for assessing a correct level of stipend was something like this – start with the basic pay of a primary school head (at that time about £36K – I believe that represented a very small primary), deduct the value of housing, council tax, non contrib. pension, etc (about £10K a the time) and then – wait for it – a ‘compulsory sacrificial element’ of £6K. Most dioceses declared themselves unable to pay the end figure… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Whilst some Reform congregations could provide for their clergy ( and even here the clergy would take a drop in standard of living), I know of no FIF one that could do so, once they were stripped of their endowments. As with the Vicar of Bray its all about money and status.

The future for a FIF denomination is what happened in a town close to me. A disused Methodist chapel, with four old ladies and two priests!

Simon Sarmiento
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Please RIW could we concentrate on pensions, on this thread, and leave any comments about FiF etc. for elsewhere. Thank you.

Rev L Roberts
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Rev L Roberts

I am so glad the literature from the C ofE Pensions Board is so clear about the rights in Law of the civil partnerships of clergy. They just need to get real and get generous with the terms.

They are still discriminatory.

Stuart
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Stuart

NdP, the key driver may be the actual level of stipends in Canada and in the UK – are your stipends of a higher value? (I’m assuming you’re also on a guaranteed benefit plan rather than a money purchase scheme – that would also make a major difference.) The CofE numbers make sense within the context of contributions required for other UK pension schemes. As Ian points out, this is a zero sum game: we have to decide how to split our resources between stipends and pensions.