From Bernadette Kenny
Sir, - The reference to "overcharging" in your headline, with
reference to the CHARM scheme (News, 5
September), is wholly inappropriate. This implies, first, that
there is an absolute, correct rent for a property; and, second,
that we are keeping money that rightly belongs to our tenants.
Neither is true.
We are moving from one rent system to another, changing rents
each year. At every stage, tenants will be paying the rent that is
We also dispute some of the figures in your article. That said,
it is true that some decreasing rents will not reach target
rent-level for many years. But moving these tenants on to target
rents immediately would, as we explained in our consultation
document, cost sums that the Church simply could not afford.
Three-quarters of those who responded to our consultation agreed
that target rent was better than rent based on income. Where people
expressed concerns about current tenants, their concerns were about
those on lower incomes who would face rising rents, or those who
will suffer a loss of income in future, not those on higher incomes
whose rents would go down.
Chief Executive of the Church of England Pensions Board
Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3AZ
From the Revd Paul Nicolson
Sir, - I have had a very helpful letter from the Church of
England Pensions Board. It explains the Board's thinking behind the
new CHARM scheme. They say the rental income from tenants of £5.9
million in 2013 is not nearly sufficient to cover the costs of the
scheme. In that year, their charitable funds contributed a further
£2.5 million, and the wider Church (via Vote 5 at General Synod)
paid £3.8 million, to make up the difference.
This funding means that, although some of the current tenants
will have to pay higher rents in real terms in the future, we are
able to keep rents much lower than market rents. On average, target
rent is around 60 per cent of the rent on the open market. The fact
remains that 418 tenants who have had the misfortune to have
retired into an area of the UK where housing values are escalating
are being forced to pay higher rents so the Pensions Board can
reduce the 422 extortionately high rents they are charging in
How can I possibly ask to be relieved of an increase in rent of
£60 a year, when I know that my colleagues will be suffering unfair
rents, reducing by £60 a year, until well into their 90s?
Whether our rents are going up or down, we are all very blessed
to be housed by the Church of England in our retirement.
But a point has been missed by the board and the General Synod.
Their problem is a chaotic national housing market. Forcing 418 of
us to adapt to chaos, without challenging the extreme free-market
ideology that lets it happen, is also to forget the people of the
UK outside the Church. A Church should protest, and try to be
better than a clone of unjust national policies.
Taxpayers Against Poverty
93 Campbell Road
London N17 0BF