- Developing Ministry
The aim of the Church of England is to see that the clergy are paid
adequately so that they are free from heavy financial problems. It
isn’t always easy to make ends meet and there are a number of areas
where help is at hand.
Making ends meet
A number of
charities will give grants to clergy and their dependants in times of
need. The Sons of the Clergy offer help towards costs related to
secondary and further education and the Friends of the Clergy can give
holiday grants and help in other areas.
Clergy should remember that these are the expenses which any normal employer would pay out to enable the staff to do their work. Parish expenses are not much different but you must remember that they are the expenses of the parish and not of individual clergy. Legitimate working expenses of the clergy should be agreed with the Treasurers and Churchwardens annually. They should be accounted for and paid regularly. Receipts and supporting evidence should be kept for tax purposes.
Wherever possible the parish should pay directly for items such as stationery. It is not appropriate for parishes to offer a nominal sum for expenses. More detailed guidance can be obtained from your Archdeacon, the Diocesan Office, or from the Archbishop’s Council: Central Stipends Authority: Ministry Division booklet, ‘The Parochial Expenses of the Clergy – a guide to their reimbursement’: (tel. 020 7898 1792) or the Church of England web site.
Clergy taxation is a specialist field and the new self-assessment regime makes matters more complicated. Certain expenses can be set against your income for tax purposes. If you do not feel confident to deal with your own Income Tax you should consult a professionally qualified person – the local library should be able to provide a list of suitable people near to where you live.
The Churches Legislation Advisory Service (CLAS) produces a very helpful booklet, ‘The Taxation of Ministers of Religion’, which covers the subject in broad terms.
There are various forms of assistance available to families on low incomes. Information can be obtained from your local Post Office or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, or the local Benefits Agency. Help may be available from these if you are a carer or are being cared for.
What if it all goes wrong
The first step to take if you suspect that your finances are out of control is to approach your Archdeacon. You will be listened to sympathetically and with absolute discretion; friendly advice will be offered. The diocese has a panel of financial experts who can look over your finances in detail and make helpful suggestions about where matters may be improved.
In the diocese there are funds from which help can be offered to those in financial distress. The Archdeacons and Diocesan Secretary administer these Charities, so do contact them at any stage if there is financial need for any reason.
The mere thought of money sends some into a state of panic. Help is available from friendly and discreet sources but only if you ask! It is important to let others know at an early stage if there is a problem. Good advice can be found in the Church Commissioners’ leaflet: ‘Your Stipend – What you need to know’.
- Church Commissioners:Elizabeth House, 39 York Road, London SE1 7NQ (020 7898 1000)
- Churches Legislation Advisory Service (CLAS):Church House Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ
www.churcheslegislation.org.uk (020 7898 1878)
- Sons & Friends of the Clergy: 1 Dean Trench Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3HB
www.sonsandfriends.org.uk (020 7799 3696)