Comments: clergy pension scheme update

I see from Document Properties that the author of the report is "Godfather", which gives it a slightly mafioso quality!

Overall, a well constructed report which frames the debate effectively - neither leaving it so wide open that respondents cannot frame coherent responses, nor narrowing it so far that there is no flexibility left.

The changes they propose common to all options seem inevitable and correct, in the challenging circumstances. The choice between the remaining three options is harder; whilst the hybrid model seems the most attractive, in practice it still moves all risk to clergy as the DC contribution will be reduced by however much the DB contribution increases.

Posted by Stuart at Wednesday, 1 July 2009 at 11:14am BST

The word scheme, in North America, is used mostly to describe an underhanded plan. As in a scheme to steal little old lady's money, or a bunch of scheming crooks. So whenever I read news of the Church Pension scheme, I imagine +++Rowan and a bunch of bishops in some back room of Lambeth, using pension money to bet on horses...

Posted by Aaron Orear at Wednesday, 1 July 2009 at 2:22pm BST

Given that over the last 25 yrs the average age at ordination has increased I think to about 40yrs ,fewer and fewer clergy are likely to clock up 30 let alone 43 yrs service.Many will do around 20-25.I therefore wonder just how the pension scheme has got into this state.Clearly the loss of £800million by the Church Commissioners hasnt helped.£23 million to pay off those leaving over the ordination of women was another blow.But looking back now to my choirboy days in the late 1950's I do wonder how this has happened. I hope some competent economic historian might write a book on what has happened to the C of E's finances since 1945.It will be an instructive tale!Frankly I think many of the issues now bubbling to the surface need to be looked at together...number of dioceses/dignatories/bureaucracy and so forth.Bit by bit it seems to me the fabric of a National Church is being unpicked because it is simply financially unviable, and with the polarisation and fragmentation of the last 20 or so years we will increasingly end up with a sort of congregationalism with a light touch episcopacy. There has been extraordinary change in the 30yrs of my ministry..clearly the future is even more opaque but it shows that it is pretty well impossible to have a National Church if you dont have a church tax.Trying to sustain a National Church as a voluntary body is increasingly difficult, but what exactly would the C of E be, if it didnt identify as a national parochially ordered Church.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 1 July 2009 at 3:57pm BST

I would seriously consider bringing all pensions earned from now on back to the 'National Minimum Stipend' base (eg for Bishops). None of the arguments which supposedly apply to stipends really apply to pensions.

There is a suggestion that this isn't worth much. But I reckon it could be 1-2% (not least because the senior posts are generally held by older people, and therefore the enhanced pension costs more to fund than if they were younger). And in the context of the tight figures being discussed here even marginal savings would be significant.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 1 July 2009 at 10:31pm BST

Some of this is down to Labour removing pension credits soon after taking office in the 1990s, which has hit every pension fund. The estimated deficit on final salary pension funds in the UK is roughly £200bn, though some of that is also due to the stock market. Final salary schemes are being abandoned left, right and centre, and the CofE has tried hard to hold on to this one, and should be given credit for doing so.

Still, as a 40-year old vicar with 11 years service under my belt, it's a bit of a worry.

Posted by David Keen at Thursday, 2 July 2009 at 8:36am BST

Trying to sustain a National Church as a voluntary body is increasingly difficult, but what exactly would the C of E be, if it didnt identify as a national parochially ordered Church.

Umm - an ordinary denomination, like every other province of the Anglican Communion???

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Friday, 3 July 2009 at 12:58am BST

Possibly Tim, but I rather fear that in the English situation the comprehensiveness of the C of E and the fragile bonds that hold it together would mean that it would gently implode.After all, its "a good boat to fish from ", as many have said. And a C of E vicar has a richer life,I think, because he isnt simply pastor to a congregation.

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 4 July 2009 at 3:27pm BST
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