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Lambeth Palace
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Bishops accused of leading lavish lifestyles while parishes 'struggle to meet their bills'

by Chantalle Edmunds

Church of England bishops have been accused of living lavish lifestyles by a member of the Church's governing body.

In written questions submitted ahead of the sitting of General Synod, which began on Friday, Sam Margrave, a lay member of General Synod asked Church Commissioners, who are responsible for managing the Church’s £9.2 billion investment fund, how much bishops are costing.

He was told, on top of their forty-six-thousand-pound salary, they receive up to 100 hundred thousand pounds in expenses.

The published data showed that the average annual cost of the ongoing maintenance of bishops' houses is £70,310 per house. In addition, 26 bishops live in houses with more than six bedrooms.

Mr Margrave told The Telegraph: "As a member of General Synod for over a decade I have questioned the cost of bishops’ lavish lifestyles, and opulence at the top while parishes up and down the country struggle to meet their bills, and even close their door.

"Parishes are having to find the Parish Share which is a tax on local Churches, some of which goes to the national church."

He added: "No one needs to live in a £2 million house. There are plenty of large houses in every diocese near an estate church. It's time bishops got out into the real world and stopped living like Kings or Queens while the Church of England goes bankrupt."

Rev Canon Jonathan Ford, another member of the Synod, spoke to Premier and said the bishops are well worth the money.

"The whole process is totally transparent. You have to differentiate between what we actually pay them. And the allowances they get to do their job. And that's where the 100,000 pounds comes from. Yes, many of them have six bedroom houses, but those houses are also offices, which anything from three to seven people work full time. Also, the bishop is expected to do hospitality, entertain people who come for interviews and all that sort of stuff, as well as his role in the community. So actually, they get pretty good value for money for what they spend on them."

"The Archbishop of Canterbury lives in Lambeth palace, but he only has a flat in the palace. It is in fact a huge administrative amendment hub. It's like living over a very large, very expensive church hall. The Archbishop draws 75,000 pounds salary and he's responsible for 90 million people worldwide. The average Bishop is 46,000 pounds, they are usually responsible for a membership of something like 13 to 30,000 people and responsible for 120 full time people, he's responsible for their care and protection, but also their safeguarding, their insurance, their housing, and all the other things they're responsible for. So actually, for what you pay bishops, you get a huge amount of responsibility," he said.

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