A SPOKESMAN for the Archbishops'
Council has defended the state of the Clergy Pension Scheme, after
a pensions consultant said that its deficit would put a burden on
John Ralfe, an independent pensions
specialist, told The Financial Times on Saturday
that the C of E pensions deficit could reach £500 million by the
end of this year. He said that congregations would have to find
£108 million a year if the current plan to eliminate the deficit
over 12 years was not extended.
A spokesman said in response to the
FT story: "We do indeed expect a deficit, but this is
inevitable given the current financial climate and low level of
gilt yields. But we are a relatively young scheme, and time is on
"In light of the flexibility afforded
all pension schemes by the Pensions Regulator, the Board is
currently actively considering its approach to the triennial
valuation. Our investments are showing a good return, and we do
have options for more radical change to the scheme should we need
them in the future."
The performance of the Clergy Pension
Scheme would continue to be monitored "to ensure both security in
old age for those who so selflessly serve the Church and a scheme
that can be afforded by the Church at large".
An update from the Archbishops'
Pensions Task Group, given to the General Synod last week, said:
"The Pensions Board has done some early thinking with the support
of the scheme actuary on how any increased pension deficit might
best be managed. Barring further substantial deterioration, initial
indications are that a way through that avoided further changes to
the current scheme could involve a combination of measures.
"They would include some changes to
the financial assumptions used, an increase in the length of the
recovery plan, and some increase in the contribution rate paid by
dioceses. Depending on the size of the - hopefully small - increase
in contributions needed, consideration might need to be given, on
affordability grounds, to some stipend restraint."