Thinking Anglicans

The Church of England and the living wage

The Sun newspaper (in an article behind its paywall) reported this morning that some cathedrals and churches are hiring staff on salaries below the living wage. This is despite last week’s pastoral letter from the House of Bishops calling on employers to pay at least this amount.

Tim Wyatt reports the story for the Church Times: Investigation into church salaries leads to Living Wage row.
So too does BBC News: Church of England pays some workers below living wage.

There is a press release from the Church of England, and comments from the Archbishop of Canterbury.


  • Father David says:

    It costs £10.50 for an adult to enter Canterbury Cathedral. If anyone wants to borrow my Dog Collar they can get in for FREE.

  • Edward Prebble says:

    But, Father, if everyone borrows your dog collar, you might end up having to pay the 10 pound 50 yourself.

  • robert ian Williams says:

    You wouldn’t expect anything better from the Tory press. The forthcoming general election is going to be one of the dirtiest ever fought.

  • I understand, Father David, that is one wishes to enter Canterbury Cathedral to pray or worship, that entry will be free. Is that not so?

  • AndrewT says:

    The terms on which many church musicians are engaged (as pseudo-volunteers) would also be considered an evasion of minimum wage law in any other setting. It’s quite ridiculous that the church thinks it’s in a position to lecture business and government on this topic.

  • Chris H says:

    Is the UK so homogenous that a single “living wage” will work? In the States, the cost of living varies so much that a single “living wage” would be unworkable.

  • Stevie Gamble says:

    What fascinated me about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments was the way in which he produced ‘40,000 trusts and charities’ like a magician extracting rabbits from a top hat.

    The Archbishops and the bishops have made lots of comments recently, speaking as the head of the one Anglican Church, on diverse topics ranging from equal marriage, mitochondrial diseases, the refusal to accept the ministry of women, and the defence of the Green Report -including, incidentally its cost-, and at no point have those comments mentioned that actually it’s not one church but ‘40,000 trusts and charities’. Perhaps they could make up their minds before the poor chaps in the Press Office expire from terminal confusion…

  • Brian Ralph says:

    In 2010 I attended Evensong at St Paul’s and so avoided the entry fee. I had visited as a tourist in 1974, forget details re fee. It always amazes me that in France, entry to cathedrals even Notre Dame, Paris is free because the secular state supports them. This year I am going to an organ recital in the evening at Notre Dame to avoid the queues.

  • JCF says:

    Well, this (revelation) was entirely predictable. Physician Heal Thyself, et al…

  • Father David says:

    Dear Fr. Ron, The travelling expenses from New Zealand might be a bit steep if you desire to visit the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion. Yes, indeed, mercifully you don’t have to pay to get into an act of worship. Earlier today I went along to St. Paul’s for a beautiful offering of Prayer Book Evensong sung by a wonderful School Choir from Solihull and I paid not a single penny piece. Wearing a collar and tie had I gone earlier in the day it would have cost me a lot more than £10.50. Thankfully it is still free to get into “the greatest cathedral on planet earth, bar none” – long may Dean Sadgrove keep it that way.

  • Perry Butler says:

    Anyone living in Canterbury Inc all students can apply for a free pass Fr David

  • Erika Baker says:

    I’m a bit disturbed by offers of avoiding the entrance fee. As our Cathedrals aren’t financed through the tax system, what are they to do to stay afloat? Take money from the parish share? Accept that people want to treat them as a free museum without contributing?

    Maybe if more people contributed properly the church would be better able to pay a living wage to all its staff?

  • Father David says:

    That’s highly commendable Perry free passes for Canterbury cathedral for all local residents, shouldn’t it also be free entry to the Mother Church of the Anglican Communion for all practising Anglicans, who already pay generously towards the Parish Share and the upkeep of their own parish churches?

  • Jean Mayland (Revd) says:

    Thankfully only about 5 cathedrals charge to go in. Chester recently stopped charging and they now have more visitors and a higher income than when they charged.

    When my husband was Canon Treasurer of York Minster he said we would charge to go in over his dead body! When we went to York his first actions were to raise the level of wages( there was a large staff of builders,stone masons vergers etc) and introduced a Pension Scheme. The first year we ran on a deficit budget but the money came in.
    The next year he increased the insurance on the Cathedral and when the south transept burned the insurance completely paid for the repair. The contrast to replace was made with the Minster staff. Any money which came in was used for extra fire precautions etc.

    In our day the 3 Residentiary Canons led worships and did their residence but the 3 of them shared the running of the Minster between them.My husband was in charge of Minster work force and the fabric as well as the budget and accounts.He did have an assistant bursar.
    Now York has 10 managers to cover what was done by the Canons .He left the Minster with a large amount in reserve which the next Dean squandered having discontinued the office of Treasurer. A ‘temporary ‘ charge was introduced to pay the debt, It still continues! The Minster used to be crowded with people during the day especially when wet. In the evenings people came into the Minster and sat and meditated.

    Cathedrals can be maintained without charging and became real centres of outreach and mission – and pay their staff properly!

  • Father David says:

    I’ve just revisited Ronald Jasper’s biography on George Bell, that great Dean of Canterbury and that even greater Bishop of Chichester. On page 38 of the book it states:-
    “In 1925 Bell achieved a cherished desire of abolishing entrance fees and making all parts of the Cathedral church itself free to visitors.”
    I’m sure that sentence would warm the heart of the One who once overturned the tables of the money changers in the Jerusalem Temple.
    On page 55 of the same volume, concluding the chapter on Bell’s time as Dean of Canterbury is an autobiographical poem by Bell himself which shews how proud he was of his achievement in abolishing entrance fees:-
    “From Lambeth I, with full courage,
    Made a decanal pilgrimage;
    Succeeding to the dead Dean Wace,
    I sat where now is the red Dean’s place,
    And helped all NOBODIES to see
    The whole cathedral without fee,
    We were young, we were wise, and very, very merry
    And founded the Friends of Canterbury.”

  • Jean Mayland (Revd) says:

    Ronald of course was Dean when we were at York and supported Ralph in having no charge to enter.

    Bishop Bell was absolutely right.

  • Rev David says:

    It’s great that the Bishops want to urge politicians to be more caring and work for social justice… bu they may need to do that by setting an example to politicians, as well as preaching to them!

    For instance, the 26 Bishops who sit in the Lords should make it clear that their parliamentary income is deducted from their episcopal stipends, rather than being an extra income?

    That stes a good example if we think that politicians shouldn’t earn extra income through having second jobs.

  • Stevie Gamble says:

    I appreciate that churches, including Cathedrals, do not receive direct State funding, but every time someone completes the little Gift Aid envelope during service collections, or when making a donation, the State dutifully coughs up a chunk of money.

    It’s an indirect subsidy, but it’s a subsidy all the same, and all the more reason to encourage people to fill in the details.. It doesn’t apply to charges made to enter cathedrals etc but that, of course, is not a gift…

  • Richard Ashby says:

    I am glad to say that Chichester does not charge and hopefully never will. The spirit of George Bell still lives here.

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