Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Right to Buy for Vicars

Curious piece by the Daily Mail, apparently saying Revd Richard Coles can't criticise the Tories' ridiculous and un-Conservative plan to steal homes from Housing Associations to buy votes from people who want a quick win, because he used to have sex in lay-bys. Having a go at Fr Richard for his drug-taking past seems a bit rich, given the Mail's readers must be constantly off their heads on Victory V's and gin to accept the constant fear-health-scare-sexism-immigrants diet they are fed without realising it's all drivel. Indeed, if they believed the Mail's tales of benefits-stealing, scantily-dressed, disease-ridden celebrity asylum seekers, it's a wonder they can get out their doors without a stiff amyl nitrate.

But it does strike me, reading about Fr Richard's 'grace and favour" mansion (I presume the Mail thinks he does no work except on Sundays. This is really not true) that, looked at in one sense, the property portfolios of the churches of our country make the Church a confederation of Housing Associations. So I have a suggestion.

The churches should start charging a peppercorn rent for their parsonages, so that, in effect, the religious ministers of this country are sitting tenants. This means that surely, on Tory logic, they must have a right to buy. Even today, some vicarages are nice bits of real estate with development potential. And the ministers will be able, by flogging off their new acquisitions, to buy themselves a decent pension, thus saving them having to form dodgy alliances with undertakers during their retirements. And the church property departments, having released a nice slab of cash from the mortgage companies and the Government subsidy, will be able to buy nice new manses.

Which the ministers will have the right to buy.

The churches could even rent the old manses back from the ministers they've sold them to, then let them live there. After all, they still need somewhere for their clergy to live.  I reckon, if the churches play it right, they can get the Government to subsidise the whole of British Religion. I'm off to get my application in now.


  1. So, do we class Vicarages in the same category as Social Housing? Not sure how 'Shared Ownership' works in this context. The Vicar (in old money) as Incumbent holds the Freehold for both the Parsonage and the Church itself. In this role, they are actually quite property wealthy. Although, I believe that some sort of covenant protects them flogging either on the open market.

    Or, are they 'tied' housing as some professions have. The Armed forces are just one example, some police forces still retain tied housing and many senior politicians live in tied housing like Downing Street, Chequers etc. Joe Bloggs can't apply to rent any of these places since the big nobs (not literally speaking) hang out there.

    I believe that there still 'tied' cottages on certain landed Estates owned by the Gentry, Game Keepers spring to mind - and in some ways the Vicar is a game keeper. The only difference is they don't send the flock that they protect, out to be shot in the right season.

    But getting back to flogging off all of the parsonages, I think that we need to start with Bishop's Palaces and put them into shared ownership, social housing. That would be a step forward for them being down and dirty with the people of their diocese, nose rings, tattoo's and piercings and all.

    Leave incumbents in peace. Their rent free accommodation is actually taxable as the tax man counts it as a perk of office or benefit in kind, so lets not over complicate their lives by the introduction of right to buy - that's one step to far to the Tory Party at Prayer.

  2. We'd love a right to buy our rather tired sub-standard vicarage come retirement (at which point the parish will probably be drastically reconfigured) It would save the hassle of buying and decamping to a retirement house.


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