Church of England clergy have submitted a formal pay claim for the first time in their history.
As the cost-of-living crisis continues, employees who are members of Unite are asking for a 9.5% increase in their stipend from April 2024.
The union, which is representing more than 2,000 clergy and lay officers, is proposing that the clergy’s national minimum stipend is set at £29,340, while the benchmark should be £31,335. The churches dioceses would then use these rates to set their clergy’s individual stipends.
Unite is additionally recommending the launch of a national funding system so that paying their clergy is affordable for all dioceses.
The union’s Church of England Clergy and Employee Advocates wider faith workers branch was asked to put forward proposals to the Church of England’s Remuneration and Conditions of Service Committee (RACSC), which is responsible for any rises in stipends.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Like all workers, Church of England clergy are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. While many will argue their work is a vocation, the simple truth is that on their current rewards they are among the working poor.
“The Church of England has billions in the bank and can fully afford to pay its clergy the modest increase in their stipend they are seeking. The clergy deliver a clear message for the Church of faith in the hereafter. Unite is fighting for a better deal for them in the here and now.”
Unite activist and member of the clergy, Sam Maginnis, added: “Clergy have been working tirelessly to support their local communities through the cost-of-living crisis: facilitating and coordinating vital services and activities, providing personal care and guidance to individuals in need, and speaking hope and a sense of togetherness in unstable and uncertain times. However, last year many clergy had to turn to charitable aid because they couldn’t make ends meet.
“All clergy should be paid at a level that secures relief from financial hardship, promotes personal wellbeing and enables them to effectively serve and support their local communities. The proposed increase is necessary to start bringing pay back in line with inflation while addressing the most urgent hardship and anxiety faced by too many clergy and their families.”
The RASCSC is expected to decide on any increase today (19 June).