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Church of England clergy asks for a pay raise for the first time in history

Clergy members of the Church of England are asking for a 9.5% pay hike that would begin in April 2024. Here, a view inside Westminster Abbey in London on April 12 ahead of King Charles III's coronation.
Dan Kitwood
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AP
Clergy members of the Church of England are asking for a 9.5% pay hike that would begin in April 2024. Here, a view inside Westminster Abbey in London on April 12 ahead of King Charles III's coronation.

Even the Church of England is feeling the pinch of the United Kingdom's cost-of-living crisis, and now clergy members are asking for a pay raise.

Members of the clergy have submitted a formal pay claim to the church for the first time in history, according to the labor union Unite.

"While many will argue their work is a vocation, the simple truth is that on their current rewards they are among the working poor," Unite's general secretary, Sharon Graham, said in a statement.

The union, which represents more than 2,000 clergy members and lay officers in the Church of England, said it requested a 9.5% increase in the stipend paid to clergy, beginning in April 2024.

Graham added that the Church of England has over $13 billion in reserves and can afford the pay bump.

In a statement to NPR, a Church of England spokesperson said clergy members offer "unstinting spiritual, pastoral and practical support" to their communities each day.

"We know they make this huge contribution against a backdrop of a cost of living crisis both for them and those they minister to," the spokesperson said. "We are mindful of this, and of issues of affordability for dioceses, in the deliberations over the annual recommendations for the minimum and benchmark stipend levels."

The church sets a national minimum stipend and a national benchmark stipend for clergy pay. Dioceses pay the stipends and can exceed the benchmark if they choose to.

A committee met Monday to make recommendations for clergy pay in the upcoming year, and the final recommendation will come during a meeting of the Archbishops' Council in September.

Unite said it proposed increasing the national minimum stipend to around $37,000 and the national benchmark stipend to about $40,000.

Since late 2021, U.K. residents have seen their disposable income shrink because of inflation and high energy prices, according to the Institute for Government, a U.K. think tank. The economic crisis has been driven by a number of factors, including product shortages, energy industry problems and supply chain issues.

The Clergy Support Trust, a charity that provides support to Anglican clergy members and their families, said it helped over 5,000 people in 2021 — more than any other year on record.

The Church of England has also set aside funding to help dioceses during the cost-of-living crisis, including an additional $3.8 million in discretionary funding to dioceses and $19 million to offset the high cost of energy bills.

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