A clergy house is, first and foremost, a home. It is also a place of work and often the scene of evening meetings, as well as a contact point for parishioners. Clear boundaries need to be set to define the areas within the property. One approach is to keep all the 'business' downstairs, with the stairway acting as a usefully physical definition of what is private. The family, though, also needs a focal point, so the 'business' and 'family' ends of things should be able to operate at the same time, and any children do not have to be consigned to bedrooms every time there is a meeting.
The cost of heating and lighting is the occupant’s responsibility (if the bills are paid by the PCC, the amount must be declared annually and will be deducted from your stipend), but the Inland Revenue allows a proportion as a tax concession. There is a form to complete each year and the tax code will be adjusted. Those office holders provided with a house of residence, for the better performance of their duties, need to be aware of both their rights and responsibilities. These are detailed here. They are summarised as follows:
1. Duties of the relevant housing provider as administered by the Glebe and Buildings Committee (the committee) are:
- To repair the structure and exterior of the buildings of the property, including windows, doors, drains, gutters and external pipes;
- To repair all relevant walls, fences, gates, drives and drains of the property;
- To repair and keep in proper working order installations related to the supply of water, gas and electricity, sanitation, space heating or heating water;
- To arrange for a qualified surveyor to inspect the property at least every five years and submit a report describing its state and condition;
- To send the officeholder a copy of this report and after consultation carry out any appropriate repairs within a reasonable time frame;
- To pay the council tax;
- To insure the property against all risks related to buildings.
2. Duties of the officeholder are:
- To permit the officers acting for the committee to enter the property after giving reasonable notice in order to inspect or carry out repairs or for another reasonable purpose consistent with its powers and obligations;
- To keep the property and contents provided clean and free from deterioration;
- To keep any garden or other grounds belonging to the property in a good state of upkeep;
- To notify the committee of any repairs required as soon as possible;
- To pay the whole or part of any repairs which they are responsible for;
- To use the property as a private residence for their household only and for any other purpose only as agreed by the committee or officers acting on its behalf;
- Not to make any repairs, alterations or additions to the property without the consent of the committee or officers acting on its behalf;
- Where the property is held on a lease, to observe any binding term, condition or covenant;
- To vacate the property within one month of either ceasing to hold office or changing office and to leave the property clean, tidy and clear of all personal possessions.
3. Duties expected of the PCC are:
- Board of Finance houses will be maintained by the diocese. However, if the house is owned by the PCC, liability for redecoration, repairs, running and repair costs of heating, lighting, telephone rental, water rates and council tax should be established. A contact name and address from the PCC should be obtained, to whom requests for repairs and accounts will be sent.
Any disputes or objections regarding housing may be dealt with by the grievance procedure. Incumbents have the right of veto over the sale of the parsonage house. Priests in charge on common tenure have a right of objection to the Church Commissioners in the event of a proposed sale.
For all appointments under common tenure, sections 4-7 on the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009 and part III of the Ecclesiastical Officers (Terms of Service) Regulations (Regulations 12 – 17) are dedicated to the provision of accommodation, rights and obligations of housing providers and officeholders, procedures for transactions and so on. Read the full text of the measure and its related regulations.
More specific information on procedures relating to housing within the Diocese of Oxford is found in the housing policy document and general guidance notes by the Buildings Management and Strategy Committee. The Buildings Management and Strategy Committee have produced some FAQs for living in a clergy house in the Diocese of Oxford, containing all the information you need to know.
This document is divided into four main areas:
- Internal housing
- External housing
- Moving into your home
- Moving out of your home
If you have any housing issues which cannot be resolved locally, please contact the Buildings and Glebe team at Diocesan Church House on 01865 208 200. Retired clergy can find useful information on housing.
As a Diocese we thank God for the faithful and gifted service of all of our retired clergy, however it is offered. It is of immense value to the Kingdom of God and to the Church of Jesus Christ.
This short guide draws together our policy and guidelines as a Diocese to better enable the ministry retired clergy are able to offer.
The diocese will contribute £200 towards the legal costs of the purchase of a retirement home, providing this is done at the time of retirement or within the previous year. We will also pay the retiring person’s removal costs to their retirement home within mainland Great Britain (in accordance with the removal expenses guidance), covering normal household furniture and effects.
Removals to places outside this area will be dealt with on an individual basis. Enquiries about removals expenses should be directed to the archdeacon’s PA in the relevant area. The current grant amounts can be found in the diocesan stipends letter. Clergy need to consider three main areas when preparing for their retirement:
- Long-term financial planning for retirement (including retirement housing) needs to be considered right from the start of your ministry;
- Start discussions with the pensions board about retirement housing in good time before retirement;
- Consider what ministry you might wish to offer in retirement.
Further information on this can be found within the Supporting the Ministry of Retired Clergy document (section 3: preparation for retirement). The Diocese of Oxford has produced its own short guide that draws together our policy and guidelines for the ministry of retired clergy.
All clergy (stipendiary and self-supporting)
The default position from the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2017, which came into force on 1 July 2017, that a clergy person holding office under common tenure is required to retire at 70, remains in place. However, should an officeholder wish to remain in office beyond 70, regulation 29A makes a provision for this.
Until the 2017 Amendment Regulations, there was a provision to enable a bishop to extend the term of office of a priest-in-charge, team vicar, assistant curate or other licensed officeholders who had reached the age of 70. However, the new regulation has restricted this power and replaces the more flexible arrangements that were previously in place. The decision as to whether an offices holder can remain in office beyond the age of 70 is a decision for the bishop.
Should the bishop wish to enable someone over 70 to exercise a ministry other than through PtO (permission to officiate), they are required to issue a written direction that authorises the holding of the office for a time-limited period. The Archbishops’ Council has issued guidance about the age-limit measure which the diocese is required to consider when extending an appointment in this way.
Following the revisions to the process for the terms of office beyond the age of 70 for parochial clergy, the diocese has produced a health questionnaire for those over 70, a bishop template letter and a flowchart detailing how this process is managed to assist those who are involved in the process.
These are available to all those who are involved with the terms of office beyond 70 within the diocese and can be located on the Diocese of Oxford R drive. Access is restricted to those who have the requirement. R:StoreSenior StaffClergy HROccupational Health and QuestionnairesTerm of Office beyond 70 Clergy diocesan employees, on the other hand, have the same rights as other employees and will retire under diocesan employee retirement policy, which will need to comply with employment law in whatever way that may be modified following the government’s consultation.
Clergy can also apply to the bishop for permission to officiate.
Clergy who have retired from office are able to exercise ministry on a basis of permission to officiate (PtO) which does not commit them to carry out any regular ministry. The House of Bishops introduced a policy on granting permission to officiate which was approved by the House of Bishops Delegations Committee in July 2018. This agrees with the structure and framework within which permission to officiate operates across the Church of England.
The Diocese of Oxford adheres to the House of Bishops' policy on granting/renewing permission to officiate and has developed its own process to be used within the diocese. This consists of applying for the PtO flowchart and renewal of the PtO flowchart, informing you of the step-by-step process to obtain or renew your permission to officiate. Below are the relevant documents involved in the diocesan process for granting/renewing your PtO.
For housing purposes, retiring clergy fall roughly into five categories:
- Those who have a house of their own and wish to retire into it;
- Those who have enough capital to purchase a property of their own;
- Those who have some capital and who wish to take advantage of the pensions board's new shared ownership scheme;
- Those whose capital is very small or non-existent and who would wish to rent a property from the pensions board;
- Those who wish to move into supported housing - full details are available from the pensions board.
The Church of England pensions board is a registered charity that has operated the Church's Housing Assistance for the Retired Ministry (CHARM) since it came into operation in 1983. The objective of the scheme is to enable all clergy, deaconesses and licensed lay workers who retire from the stipendiary ministry having been in occupation of a 'tied house' with a suitable retirement property if they do not have the financial resources to provide such accommodation for themselves. The Church of England pensions board has dedicated website pages on retirement housing, including useful resources on what help and support is available and the housing schemes on offer.
The Church of England has produced Your Guide to Retirement Housing, giving an overview of the shared ownership, rental and supported housing for people who have served or worked for the Church. Retirement is a matter between you and the pension board. The Church of England has a Clergy Pensions Scheme Booklet. For further details, see section 3: Retirement (from page 8), section 4: Normal and Late retirement (from page 10) and section 5: Early retirement (from page 12). The diocese runs pre-retirement courses for clergy and their spouses and will help and provide advice to clergy who are approaching retirement.
Further details can be found here and in the Continuing Ministerial Development brochure. The Church of England pensions board will usually offer affordable retirement housing for clergy through the Church’s Housing Assistance for the Retired Ministry (CHARM) schemes. Three types of housing schemes are available and are subject to meeting the eligibility criteria:
- Shared ownership properties - for those who cannot afford to buy on the open market but have enough savings to buy a 25% share of a property, with us purchasing the remaining percentage, up to £150,000;
- Rental properties – for those who don’t have enough savings to buy a property through shared ownership, you can rent a modest, unfurnished home under a tenancy agreement;
- Supported housing – for those looking to live semi-independently. There are seven schemes around the country.
Retired Clergy Representatives and Clergy Widows
The pastoral care of all retired clergy and clergy widows is undertaken primarily by the area deans and the parish priests of the parishes where they live. In order to coordinate their care, it is the area bishop’s responsibility to appoint a retired clergy representative (RCR) and clergy widows officers in their archdeaconry. Further details about your RCR can be found within the guidelines for the ministry of retired clergy document. Please refer to your archdeacon for the contact details of your clergy widows officer.
The Diocese of Oxford provides a residential preparation course for those approaching retirement and a day course specifically about housing and finance. Information about these is available from the deputy director of mission, or you can discuss matters with your archdeaconry retired clergy representative (RCR).
Retired Clergy Association
The Church of England has a Retired Clergy Association which aims to:
- Support and encourage retired clergy;
- Encourage retired clergy to meet;
- Keep retired clergy up to date;
- Represent the interests of all retired clergy at the national level;
- Encourage and support bishops in their pastoral responsibilities;
- Become a community of prayer.
For further information, please visit their website. Church of England Pensions Board The charitable funds of the board may be able to offer additional help to retired members of clergy and their dependents in certain circumstances. Details can be found in section 12: Discretionary Help, page 22 of the Church of England Pensions Scheme booklet.
There are also a number of other sources of support both in and out of the Church available on the Church of England’s website (click on financial to view).