HC Deb 08 May 2000 vol 349 cc498-500
33. Sir Sydney Chapman

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what assessment the Commissioners have made on the impact on Church income of the new charitable giving arrangements. [119906]

Mr. Stuart Bell (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners)

If half the money currently given in a non-tax-efficient way were given by gift aid, the Church of England might hope to recover about another £20 million in tax in the current tax year. Our working assumption is that the new arrangements will take three years to take full effect.

Sir Sydney Chapman

I hope that the arrangements will be speeded up and that more income will come into the Church as a result of the new charitable giving initiatives. How does the hon. Gentleman envisage that he and his fellow Commissioners will be able to help churches with their running costs in the longer term?

Mr. Bell

At present, the Commissioners retain a substantial and rising liability for pensions, because of clergy who were in service before 1998. Pensions for service from 1998 onwards are being paid from the new clergy pensions scheme, so over the period 1998 to 2003 parishes are taking on the cost of pension contributions to that scheme, with transitional help from the Commissioners. By 2003, when parishes are paying pension contributions in full, we expect that giving and fundraising will constitute two thirds of the Church's income.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley)

I am sure that the Church Commissioners welcome the changes that were made to enable Church income to be boosted in that way. What steps are being taken to ensure that people understand how they can benefit from those changes, so that Church income is maximised as speedily as possible?

Mr. Bell

We wish to communicate with the parishes, with parish churches and with parishioners to let them know what the Church is doing, what form the giving should take, and how that might assist the Church in its finances and administration.