Pensions Board's response to COVID-19

Our priority is to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our people, members, customers and all those we work with. We are closely monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus and are continuing to follow Government and Church of England guidance.

In line with this guidance, we have taken steps to ensure we can continue to operate our services as normally as possible, whilst protecting individuals.  

Steps taken to date to maintain continuity of service

  • Our team normally based at Church House largely continues to work from home.  We have for some time conducted an annual exercise where all staff based at Church House are asked to work remotely to test our business continuity plans, so we have a well-rehearsed plan. We are also constantly monitoring and adapting our plan as needed based on experience in recent months.
  • We have ensured our teams can access our systems and key files from home, within a secure environment.
  • We are automatically redirecting calls so that queries to our helplines can still be dealt with even when working remotely. But please do contact us via email wherever possible. Our contact details are below.
  • Incoming and outgoing mail continues to be managed through our Pershore mail handling centre.  This address (shown below) should be used for all paper correspondence.
  • We are seeking to minimise travel for staff around the country and abroad.
  • We are encouraging any member of staff who feels unwell to self-isolate as a precaution and take a test as soon as possible.
  • We have asked colleagues not to physically attend any meetings, conferences or seminars, but to instead seek to join meetings remotely. We are using video conferencing for almost all meetings.
  • We are in contact with our suppliers and professional advisers to understand the latest developments to their contingency plans.
  • Together with our Advisers, we are continuing to monitor and evaluate the situation in the global economy carefully.  The Pensions Board is a long-term investor with a well-diversified investment portfolio.  Planned work on scheme valuations is continuing.

Our teams are continuing to prioritise delivery of critical activities but are working hard to deal with all queries promptly.

We are also continuing to review our plans to deliver essential services for our customers as lockdown is eased, and in line with emerging Government guidance.

For housing services we continue to take slow and careful steps out of lockdown. For instance:

  • From mid March to the 1 July, our maintenance contractor Sanctuary only undertook emergency repairs work. Since the 1 July, in addition to continuing to offer a 24-hour helpline for urgent repair issues, Sanctuary has started  to offer a full repairs service again, prioritising the non-urgent repairs reported before or during the national lockdown.  We are aware that due to the pandemic, some materials to complete repairs or undertake other works on a property, are on an extended lead time for delivery. We are continuing to closely monitor this situation.
  • In locations that are subject to increased local restrictions/lockdowns, Sanctuary may only be able to undertake emergency repairs. Customers are still though able to report required repairs and Sanctuary will then schedule these in once the local restrictions are lifted.
  • In line with Gas Safe and Government Advice we are continuing with undertaking annual gas safety inspections.
  • Within our seven Supported Housing schemes, we are continuing to maintain our strict hygiene and social distancing protocols to protect those who live and work there. To protect staff, we have undertaken a new workplace risk assessment, which reflects the latest guidance from the Government and Public Health England. This demonstrates that the schemes are ‘Covid-19 safe workplaces’. The risk assessment is available here.
  • We are continuing to minimise the number of visitors to Supported Housing schemes, recognising that we have to strike a careful balance around ‘opening up’ (including catching up with repairs and inspections) whilst also maintaining steps to protect our residents.  In July, some visiting services (e.g. flat cleaning and hairdressing) resumed, along with carefully arranged services at the scheme Chapels, following CofE guidance.  We are now starting to relet empty flats in our schemes, but only where it is safe for new households to ‘view’ and move in. Our guest rooms however remain closed.
  • For up to date information on any changes we are making please contact the relevant scheme manager.

We are continuing to work hard to minimise any potential delays to imminent retirement housing moves caused by the pandemic.

  • Where clergy are delaying retirement during the current crisis this will not adversely affect already reserved retirement housing.
  • We are seeking to match customers to properties as far as possible, where customers are due to retire in the next 18 months
  • Our property bulletin has also restarted and is being distributed by email. Please contact us for more information. 
  • We are now arranging viewings of available properties, where safe and possible to do so (with additional Covid-secure controls in place).
  • Also in line with government advice, some house moves are beginning to take place.

If you are planning to retire  in the near future and may need housing assistance, please contact us. We accept applications up to 5 years in advance. If you have already applied to CHARM for retirement housing, and your retirement date is likely to change from what you have previously told us, or there are likely to be other changes to your needs, please contact your Housing Officer.

What you should do

If you need to contact us, we recommend contact via email wherever possible.

For Pensions:

Email us at [email protected]

Phone us on 020 7898 1802 (9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday)

For Housing:

Email us [email protected]

Phone us on 0207 898 1824 (9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday)

For all paper correspondence:

The Church of England Pensions Board
PO Box 2026
Pershore
WR10 9BW

If you email or call us, for data security we might need to reply by post.

Useful information during Covid-19

If you are worried about your pension, the Pension Protection Fund has some useful information and steps you can take

If you are concerned about your wider finances, MaPS have some helpful guidance on steps you can take