Thinking Anglicans

plan to cap cost of episcopal housing

The Church Times has a report headlined Slash spending on bishops’ houses, says task group.

EXPENDITURE on bishops’ houses is out of control, an official task group has concluded.

The funding for see houses is set every three years. The total spent in 2002-04 was £11 million. In 2008-10, it is forecast to be £21 million. The average maintenance cost of some bishops’ houses is now well over £50,000 a year.

The figures come in a document prepared by a task group on spending, chaired by the Bishop of Lon­don, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres. Other members include the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd Andrew Urquhart, and the First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith.

The group acknowledges that a number of the houses are Grade I and Grade II listed. It also accepts that much of the expenditure is a result of work on office space in many of the houses, which are used by diocesan staff as well as by the bishop. Such expenditure seldom adds to the value of the house.

It concludes, none the less, that the money allocated in 2011-13 should be capped at £15 million, with a view to bringing it down to no more than £10 million in 2014-16. “There is a compelling need to bring control over this area of expend­iture,” the group says.

This all comes from GS Misc 946 Archbishops’ Task Group: Report on Spending Plans 2011-2013, a document with lots more interesting information, which is among the General Synod papers, but has not yet appeared on the CofE website. It might perhaps appear on this page when it does.

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Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

This measure would seem to be long overdue in the Church of England. Palaces and Castles no longer seem relevant to the ethos and real needs of the church. A modest house – with separate offices for the Diocesan Staff – such as is the form for most of the other Provincial Bishops of the Communion, would send a powerful message to the poor and needy of the World, that the Church means to emulate the life-style and poverty of the first Apostles.

Achilles
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Achilles

I would argue that perhaps excessive amounts of money are expended on the abodes of ordinary clergy, too: when I learned of the cost of the ‘refurbishment’ prior to our new incumbent’s coming to office, I must admit I was shocked. But it goes further than that even: just maintaining the fabric of ‘historic’ churches seems to cost an obscene amount of money; how does it compare with say other public or independent corporate bodies, such as universities or (goodness me) private schools as a proportion of income? Or with other parts of the Anglican Communion? The CofE needs a… Read more »

Pantycelyn
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Pantycelyn

Most of the residences of the bishops are compeltely un-evangelical– like so many aspects of the episcopate today.

A terrible witness, not a bit incarnational – heretical really !

I do wonder if bishops as we have em are the most appropriate, godly, and creative way for us today to excercise and experience episkope ?