UK

Church of England pays some workers below living wage

  • 23 February 2015
  • From the section UK
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Canterbury Cathedral
Image caption Canterbury Cathedral was one of the Church employers offering pay below the living wage

The Church of England pays some staff less than the living wage - despite calling on employers to pay at least that amount - it has been revealed.

The living wage, calculated from the basic cost of UK life, is currently £7.85 an hour outside London.

But the Sun newspaper reports a Church job advertised at £6.50 an hour - something an MP called "astonishing".

The Church said each parish, diocese and cathedral was a separate legal entity which made its own decisions.

According to the Sun, Canterbury Cathedral advertised for a kiosk assistant to be paid £6.70 an hour. The £6.50 advertisement was for "waiting-on staff" at Lichfield Cathedral.

Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke told the newspaper: "It's astonishing that the Church of England can call for the living wage to be paid by employers but don't pay it themselves."

His Tory colleague Philip Davies said many small businesses "might have considerably more difficulty raising wages" than the Church.

Media captionThe Most Reverend Justin Welby: "It's embarrassing... no institution is perfect"

In a letter to all Church members last week, the House of Bishops said it backed the living wage, which ensured people earned enough to "live decently".

"It represents the basic principle that people are not commodities and that their lives cannot adapt infinitely in response to market pressures," the letter added.

In a statement, the Church of England said it was made of independent parts but added: "The vast majority of those employed by or sub-contracted to the central institutions are already paid at least the living wage and all will be by April 2017.

"The Diocese of Canterbury and the Pensions Board of the Church of England are committed to moving to paying the living wage and hope to be at that point within the next 2 years. As charities both institutions require time to increase giving levels prior to ensuring delivery of the living wage."

BBC religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt said: "The intentions are there, and this is what the Church is aiming to do, but in the meantime we have probably not seen the end of this spat between politicians and the bishops."

The Living Wage Foundation says the hourly rate, revised yearly, is "calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK".

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