Thinking Anglicans

General Synod – pensions for surviving civil partners

This afternoon General Synod voted in favour of providing pensions to the surviving civil partners of clergy on the same basis as they are paid to surviving spouses. At present, and in accordance with the minimum requirements of the law, service before 5 December 2005 does not count towards the level of pension for surviving civil partners.

The private member’s motion, text below, was proposed by the Revd Mark Bratton, and was passed without amendment.

That this Synod request the Archbishops’ Council and the Church of England Pensions Board to bring forward changes to the rules governing the clergy pension scheme in order to go beyond the requirements of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 and provide for pension benefits to be paid to the surviving civil partners of deceased clergy on the same basis as they are currently paid to surviving spouses.

The vote was taken by houses and all three houses voted in favour; here are the detailed voting figures.

   for  against abstentions
bishops
12
2
3
clergy
97
23
10
laity
78
59
9

There were two unsuccessful proposed amendments. One, from the bishop of Ripon and Leeds, would have reworded the motion to:

That this Synod recognise that it will be some considerable time before surviving civil partners’ pension rights reach parity with those of spouses, and in the light of that note the helpful confirmation from the Pensions Board that surviving civil partners of deceased clergy are eligible to be considered for hardship grants if they meet the same qualifying conditions as apply to surviving spouses.

This amendment was defeated with 110 votes in favour, 154 against and 15 recorded abstentions.

A second amendment, proposed by Dr Philip Giddings, would have added a long list of dependent relatives, as well as civil partners, to those entitled to pensions; this was defeated on a show of hands.

Background papers
GS 1770A paper prepared by Mark Bratton
GS 1770B paper by the Rt Reverend John Packer, Chair of DRACSC (The Archbishops’ Council Deployment, Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee)

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Father Ron SmithJohn B. Chilton Recent comment authors
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John B. Chilton
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Press Release from ACNA:

That this Body
(a) aware of the distress caused by recent discrimination within the Anglican churches of England against civil partners;
(b) recognise and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Church of England to remain within the communion family that does not discriminate;
(c) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the ACNA and Gafcon, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
(d) invite the Archbishop Duncan to report further to the ACNA in 2011.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

It should be noted that, even with the new rule for equal pensionable provision for the surviving spouse or civil-partner of a deceased clergy-person, this does not mean that every survivor of a same-sex clergy-patnership will be entitled to benefit. The provision is specifically only for the official Civil-Partnership survivor. SO. Those of you English clergy who are in a same-sex relationship who have not yet committed to your same-sex partner in a Civil-Partnership will need to go ahead and do something about it. The question is, how do you do this if your local Bishop expressly forbids it? Does… Read more »