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Fees and differentials

by
22 February 2013

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From Canon Michael Storey
Sir, - On Friday 25 January, I attended a briefing meeting in Huddersfield Parish Church (Wakefield diocese), where those assembled considered the details of the new fees for 2013. I wonder who has put these figures together.

The most obviously ludicrous element of the new structure is the matter of differentials between the cost of the main services covered by the new fees, the amounts paid to diocesan boards of finance (DBFs), and also the knock-on effect of the grants to be offered to retired clergy.

Marriage service: £381, £175 to be paid to the DBF. Funeral in church: £160, £88 to be paid to the DBF. Funeral at a crematorium: £160, £139 to be paid to the DBF.

The payments to the DBF replace fees previously given to the incumbent or the person taking the services, i.e. should reflect, I suppose, time taken in preparing and conducting the services.

Retired clergy will be offered grants at 80 per cent of the amounts paid to the DBFs, i.e. £140, £70, and £110 respectively.

One does not need to have a degree in mathematics to see that some differentials are ludicrous. The most obvious ones are to do with funerals. It can never be true that a funeral in church at £88 takes less effort than one at a crematorium at £139 - retired: £70 and £110.

MICHAEL STOREY (retired)
198 Healey Wood Road
Brighouse, West Yorks HD6 3RW

From the Revd Dr David Wheeler
Sir, - While thoroughly supporting the principles behind the new church fees, especially the principles of openness and all additional fees' being optional, I feel that there is muddled thinking behind the idea that a verger is an optional extra.

A few years ago, our church was inspected by the fire brigade, and found to be in breach of safety regulations. Our fire-safety policy now requires us to have two people trained both in our evacuation procedures and use of fire extinguishers whenever there are more than 25 members of the public in the building. Usually those two people are the minister and a verger/sidesperson. That does not seem unreasonable.

Although the details of such policies might be argued, is anyone seriously saying that we can meet required safety legislation without, for example, a trained verger as well as a minister present for baptisms, weddings, and funerals? In that case, my understanding is that a verger is not an optional extra, and has to be included in the basic fee.

DAVID WHEELER
The Vicarage, Vicarage Road
Irlam, Manchester M44 6WA

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