The CHARM (Church’s Housing Assistance for the Retired Ministry) scheme is designed to assist retiring clergy who have not been able to make their own provision to find somewhere to live in retirement. Two options are available to customers – shared ownership and rented housing. Around 2,000 retired clergy and their dependants are housed in one of these two options, or in the mortgage scheme which closed in 2008.
The majority of our customers choose to rent property from us at an affordable rent. 1,200 retired clergy households and their dependants were renting from us at the end of 2017.
Retiring clergy, subject to eligibility criteria, can choose a property from our extensive portfolio up to five years before they intend to retire and “reserve” it for retirement. A list of available properties is distributed at regular intervals to those looking for their retirement home.
During 2017, we added a further 22 properties to the portfolio at a cost of £5.3 million.
We currently house around 110 clergy households through the shared ownership option. We buy a property in partnership with the retiring household; we contribute up to 75% of the property cost, with rent paid on the share we own.
It is not unusual for the retired household to buy additional equity in the property, or even to buy out our share entirely.
During the year we assisted another four households through the shared ownership option.
Until 2008, we granted equity sharing mortgages to retiring clergy. At the end of 2017 there were 706 loans outstanding.
The Board also runs seven supported living schemes for those who wish to live as independently as possible in a community of Christians and to have a range of support services available. We were able to provide housing to just over 200 residents in 2017.
The Board receives income from the provision of its services in the form of rent and service charges which in 2017 amounted to £13.9m. In addition, it relies upon voluntary income sources to support its charitable activities, including grants, donations and legacies, which in 2017 totalled £6.2m. This includes support from the wider Church of England through “Vote 5” of the Archbishops’ Council budget. The total contribution for 2017 was £4.36 million.
The Board has approximately £40m of investments, which in 2017 generated income of £1.7m which was also used to support the Board’s charitable activities.
In 2017, total expenditure on charitable activities (excluding the administration of pensions) was £22.4m and reflects the cost of operating and maintaining CHARM properties and the supported housing schemes, along with the servicing of external debt and administration costs of the Board.
The capital financing of CHARM was historically provided by the Church Commissioners, however since 2014, the Board has taken steps to move to an alternative financing model. A £100m bond was issued in 2015, of which £70m was drawn down immediately. The Board used part of the proceeds to acquire the further economic interest in 196 CHARM rental properties previously financed by the Church Commissioners, with the remainder used to pay off short term borrowing.
A further £50m fixed interest bond was issued in April 2018, of which £30m was drawn down immediately and used to pay off existing borrowings under the Board’s £50m flexible revolving loan facility with Santander.
The sustainability of long term financing continues to be a key area of focus for the Board to secure the future of clergy housing in retirement.