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House for Duty

Paper H6 Assembly Executive 2021

The policy

  1. The purpose of a house for duty policy is to provide a property to a minister of Word and Sacraments and Church Related Community Worker (hereafter known as ministers) serving in a non-stipendiary capacity for the better performance of their ministry in places where it might otherwise not be possible. It is not to provide income for ministers but to enable ministry to be offered in places where it might not otherwise be possible.
  1. Where a Synod Pastoral Committee (or equivalent) recommends that there are particular circumstances which do not make stipendiary ministry feasible in the short-medium term, or in a particular geographical area where it is difficult to provide ministry, a manse may be provided to a minister on a ‘house for duty’ basis. In the first instance this will be for a period of up to three years and in no circumstances beyond seven years. Before a minister occupies a property on this basis there must be in place an House for Duty License between the Minister and the manse trustees (normally the Synod Trust) and a clear arrangement for housing for the Minister at the end of the term.
  1. House for Duty is defined as ‘Sunday duty plus no less than two days per week’ (or x sessions or x hours per week). The minister is provided with a house to live in rent free with the local pastorate (synod if a synod post) paying Council Tax, Water Rates and buildings insurance and being responsible for the maintenance of the property according to the synod manse scheme (if applicable).
  1. House for Duty works best if it is seen as an integral part of a proper mission and deployment strategy, certainly at synod level, by which ministers work collaboratively to achieve set goals. It needs to be thought through by all concerned including the Synod Pastoral Committee (or equivalent) and the local pastorate.
  1. As those offering themselves for House for Duty posts now come from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences and are of a wide age range, there is great potential for the development of these types of roles in the future. They can be seen as opportunities to take a new approach to ministry and mission in a particular area, introduce changes and prepare congregations for new ways of working in the future. This can include:
  • Pioneer Ministry
  • the development of Fresh Expressions
  • chaplaincy
  • a remit to work with specific societal groups or age ranges
  • work with children or young people
  • the development of community projects
  • the development and facilitation of lay ministry training
  • as a trouble-shooter on fixed term basis to address specific

It is important that the synod, local pastorate and minister should be actively involved in drawing up any ministry vision (role description) including a review at the outset so that all parties understand what is being agreed to in both the House for Duty Licence and the Terms of Settlement.

6.   Tax liability  

6.1 Discussions with the Inland Revenue have received the assurance that if a house for duty was provided to a URC minister for the better performance of the duties and the minister provided Sunday duty plus no less than two days per week (or X sessions or X hours a week) there would not be a tax liability for the Minister, Pastorate, synod or Trustee, as the house would be regarded as being provided for the better performance of the duties and Ministry and not a taxable benefit in kind (is traditionally one of those occupations for which this arrangement is permissible and would not be regarded as a benefit in kind).

6.2 If a person is in paid employment and wishes to live in the manse to undertake the duties but cannot satisfy the minimum expectations of time, then it would be regarded as a benefit and taxable.

7. Whilst it is intended that this policy will apply in England, Scotland and Wales, it is noted that when the date of enactment of the Renting Homes (Wales) (Amendment) Act 2021 is known, the URC will need to take further legal advice.

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United Reformed Church