Your questions answered

Our Enabling Choice webinars gave interested parties the opportunity to hear from Pensions Board colleagues about how the Church might be able to open up different choices for clergy and put them in the driving seat of their retirement housing plans.

Read the Q&A from the webinars here, addressing a range of questions about housing and retirement provision.

Help with retirement housing now

What is the minimum service length you need to access retirement housing today?
If I have spent part of my ministry in chaplaincy roles, would that count towards my service?
I am currently in Church retirement housing, but possibly need to make a move. How do I do that? Can I downsize to another Church home?
Does the Board offer any help to those who move into their own home at retirement but may need to move later in life to be near family? Would there be financial help if the sale of the property didn’t cover the cost of where we subsequently needed to live

On sparking and encouraging earlier planning

Who will pay for the financial advice?
How will 1-to-1 conversations to consider options specific to individual circumstances be enabled/organised, while in ministry?

On enabling home ownership

How is agency (e.g. to get a mortgage) possible given the level of the current stipend?
If a property is purchased before retirement and rented out, how would the clergy landlord fund any ongoing maintenance and repair work that is required, plus any major changes that may be required to meet energy efficiency/net zero targets?
Most clergy appointments are now made under Common tenure. Does that pose any barriers to getting a mortgage?

On opening the doors to different retirement housing options

How many other providers will provide lifetime assured tenancies?
How will a 1-to-1 conversation to consider options specific to individual circumstances in the 10 years before retirement be organised?

On offering quality Church retirement homes

The discussion material invites comment on whether property purchases for retirement housing might in future be limited to cheaper areas. Will we be able to retire where we need to (e.g. to be close to family)?
Would it be true to say that clergy in Church retirement housing are now using more of their pension (state & clergy) to pay for rent? Would it be possible to cap the % increase in the future?

General questions about our ideas

What level of savings, might in the future, mean someone couldn’t access help with housing? How might that assessment be carried out?
Why did Board colleagues use the word “Customers” and not “Pensioners” in talking about its ideas today?

Working with the Church

Will people like Archdeacons and others in oversight of clergy be trained in line with the proposals - and if they are not being helpful, what do we do?
Will Directors of Ministry be well informed on these proposed changes?

Commitments to clergy and pace of change

Clergy have been promised that the church would "look after" them into retirement by providing housing if necessary. Does this proposal run counter to that promise?
How much protection might there be offered to those in ministry today (e.g. 15 years from retirement), who had made plans based on their current provision?
Over the past few decades, there have been lots of changes to arrangements for clergy (e.g. move to common tenure, changes to pensions). How certain can clergy be that these new ideas, if introduced, would not be subject to change?
I am planning to retire within the next 3 years. Will these changes affect me?
How quickly might change be introduced?

About retirement planning now

At what age do clergy have to retire? 67 or 70?
I am retiring in about 9-10 years. What are the next steps I should take now to prepare for that?
Some church jobs are salaried (e.g. diocesan officers) which also means housing isn't provided. Can the Pensions Board offer any help to those in these roles to buy or rent before retirement age?
I am not planning to retire just yet, but I am interested in looking at my options around rental and home ownership. Where can I go for financial advice?

Next steps

How will the feedback from these webinars and the survey be used to inform new services? Will the feedback be shared transparently? And will decisions about future services end up in a particular forum to be voted on?

Wider remuneration questions

My understanding is that pensions are calculated on stipends only. Is there any move to make an allowance for tied housing in how total pension is calculated?
Are there any plans to restore pension benefits to pre-2011 levels?