Welcome to the other Latin tag I remember from my Classics degree. So is £26800 enough and more than enough – pre-tax – for a couple to live on, not including a car?
Dominic Lawson explored this in yesterday’s Independent – commenting on a report from the Rowntree Foundation, ‘A Minimum Income Standard for Britain.’ What is interesting about this approach to defining poverty is that it does not express it as a proportion of a median – such as the national average wage. Rather it attempts to set a ‘minimum standard’ as ‘having what you need to have the opportunities and choices necessary to participate in society.’ Which, of course, brings it closer to the concept of a stipend – the amount which one is given in order to live while carrying out the work of ministry. At that, a £26800 stipend would sound generous to our clergy.
The caveats? Well let’s dispose of the nonsense one first. Housing is included in the £26800 and clergy are provided with housing? Yes they are – during their working lives. This means that, unless they are fortunate enough to ‘marry well’ or be otherwise endowed, they have to deal with their housing needs at the end of their working lives rather than at the beginning. Just in case you were asking, I think we need a more subtle answer to that question than ‘Sell the rectories and let the clergy .. ‘ And the car – which isn’t covered by the £26800? Well – set aside the fact that fuel costs have increased by 50% and the mileage rates have remained the same. Most clergy cover fewer miles per year than I do in the faithful Passat. They also travel uphill now and again whereas I, as a bishop, travel downhill only. So the amount they are able to claim in expenses will help to run the car but will never be enough to replace it.
Satis superque? Interesting.