UK - The Church of England fears it could have to sell up to half of its assets - mostly property - to meet its long-term pension obligations.
The Church – one of the largest property owners in the UK – is currently using £30m of its property assets a year to meet obligations to its £135m final salary pension fund.
It says that if this trend continues it could see more than half its assets eaten up over the next 60 years.
Labour MP Stuart Bell – a Church estates commissioner – said: “The actuaries estimated that, on the basis of present withdrawals from the funds of the commissioners, which amount to about £30m a year and possibly more than that, it would take 60 years for half our capital to be divested.”
Bell has asked the Queen to extend the period whereby the Church can deposit capital into the scheme by seven years – a measure already approved by the Church’s General Synod.
The Queen has also been asked to amend the powers of the pensions board so that it can strategically move money between its pension funds to reduce costs.
The capital deposit arrangements, which were due to expire in January 2005, were set up to help the Church meet its pre-1998 pension liabilities.
Frank Field MP, the head of the Pensions Reform Group, said that the Church should bring forward its actuarial review over concerns about its funding.
Bell said he would take up the matter with the commissioners.
At the end of last year, the General Synod voted to retain the Church’s defined benefit scheme, but changed the accrual period for a full pension from 37 to 40 years.
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