RETIRED CLERGY renting homes from the Church of England Pensions
Board have expressed dismay that it will be years, and in some
cases decades, before their rent is reduced to the level deemed
appropriate under the new target-rent scheme.
The transition to target rent for those living in Church's
Housing Assistance for the Retired Ministry (CHARM) houses was
confirmed in July (News,
1 August). From April, rent will no longer be based on gross
income post-retirement, but on a range of factors, including
In August, the Pensions Board sent all members of the scheme
details of their calculated target rent, and confirmation that,
depending on whether they were currently paying more or less than
this, it would reduce or increase by £5 a month.
Those currently paying in excess of the target rent have
expressed dismay and anger at the rate of transition. The Revd
Barbara Knight is paying £774 a month for a house in Accrington,
Lancashire. She has been informed that the target rent is £385. It
will thus be 78 years before this lower rent is reached.
"We are penalised because we have our private pensions," she
wrote in an unpublished letter to Church Times last month.
"Although I knew we were paying massively over the odds for rental
property in this area, we paid it because that was the requirement
of the CHARM scheme. . .
"I appreciate greatly the security of living in a C of E
Pensions property, and would not object to paying a reasonable
amount over the target rent, but for it to be more than double is
difficult to accept."
Last month, the Revd Paul Nicolson complained about the increase
in his rent (of £5 a month) under the changes to CHARM (Letters, 15
August). Mrs Knight said that such complaints required "some
In another letter, the Revd Ronald Roberts said that it would
take 46 years for his rent of £643.05 a month to be reduced to the
target of £410.14. By this point, he would be 120 years old.
"Perhaps the time is long overdue for the Church to take a long
hard look at how it treats its retired clergy," he wrote.
The Revd Geoffrey Garner and his wife wrote to say that their
rent was currently £396.41 above the calculated target rent: "We
worked willingly for a very low stipend, which was never enough to
pay for a mortgage, and we were always reassured that we would be
'looked after' in retirement. It feels as if the only looking after
that is happening here is the Church Commissioners looking after
It is understood that some members of the scheme would have to
wait 50 to 60 years before they reached their target rents. The
letter from the Pensions Board states that it needs "to ensure that
we maintained overall the same level of income".
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Pensions Board said: "In
moving to any new rent system, there will always be those who have
to pay more, and those who have to pay less.
Naturally those whose rent is being reduced would like to have
the whole reduction immediately, and those whose rent is being
increased want this to be done as slowly as possible.
"However, given that funding for the scheme is unlikely to
increase significantly, there's no way to achieve this change to
the new rent system without bringing it in over the same period for
those who need to pay more and those who need to pay less."