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Clergy payroll 'disaster' blamed on 'human error'

by Ros Mayfield

Around 7-thousand vicars didn't get paid on time this month.  The Church of England has announced a 24 hour delay in its payroll, due to "human error".

A statement - buried deep on the church's national website - says, "We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.  Any bank charges incurred as a result will of course be reimbursed."

Several clergy posted tweets from bishops and senior clergy, offering advice to any clergy who may go into the red as a result.

Speaking to Premier, a spokesperson at the Church of England referred to the situation as a "disaster". 

The Rev Nikki Groarke is the Archdeacon of Dudley in the Diocese of Worcester.  She heard the news late on Tuesday night, and has been reaching out to her affected clergy:

"We made a point... as soon as we were able to access our database, of emailing all our clergy, explaining what had gone on... and offering help and support if needed."

Rev Groake accepted that "people make mistakes", but said for some clergy, a 24hr delay could be the "straw that breaks the camel's back".

"We don't go into serving the church because we want a big paycheck… but it can be quite a challenge for some to live on a clergy stipend, particularly those who have young children and whose spouse might not be able to work because they're involved in childcare."

"I think the main anxiety for people is that where they have regular payments that go out. And normally their stipend will have come in on the last day of the previous month, that they might go temporarily overdrawn and incur some bank charges, and possibly it might affect their credit status."

She confirmed that many dioceses are making help available for anyone facing financial difficulty as a result:

"If people are in any hardship if they incur any extra costs and have any immediate needs to contact their own. Bishop or Archdeacon and I know the Church of England centrally have said that if there are any bank charges, they will reimburse them."

Head of Finance Communications at the Church of England, Alistair Hammond told Premier News the problem has now been resolved, and measures are in place to prevent it happening again:

"As a result of human error, payments to Church of England stipendiary clergy due on Wednesday were delayed by 24 hours. The payments have been made and will now arrive in accounts on Thursday."

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