THE annual cost of the Church of England’s bishops rose by nearly £1 million in the four years to 2020.
The figure, made up of housing and expenses, was requested by Sam Margrave, a General Synod member from Coventry diocese. The average annual cost of maintaining one of the 42 see houses rose from £61,079 in 2015 to £70,310 in 2020, the Church Commissioners reported. The housing of suffragan bishops is paid for by dioceses, and no central figure exists.
The average spent on expenses in 2020 was £36,976, of which £3200 was spent on meetings and hospitality. In 2019, the last year unaffected by the pandemic, these figures were £53,446 and £15,238 respectively.
Mr Margrave also asked about the style of life bishops are given. Twenty-six see houses have more than six bedrooms; 12 bishops employ a gardener (others used contractors); none now has a chauffeur (down from 11 in 2015), though “a number of bishops have staff who will on occasion do some driving for them in particular situations.”
In the General Synod on Friday, the Third Church Estates Commissioner, Dr Eve Poole, agreed that the Commissioners would provide a breakdown of bishops’ costs for the past five years and annually into the future.