Religious subsidy of the week – no 1

Jesus Christ drives the moneychangers out of the temple

The Scottish Government  contributed towards the developments costs of the Scottish Churches Parliamentary Office (SCPO) which serves 12 denominations. SCPO was established in 1999 to help churches

  • Engage effectively in the new political process
  • Translate their commitment to the welfare of Scotland into Parliamentary debate
  • Contribute the range and depth of their experience, and their faith reflection on that experience, to the decision-making process.

These churches are all also likely to be charities which benefit from exemptions from taxation on income and gains from charitable activities as well as rates relief and gift aid and some of them have substantial resources.

SCPO operates as part of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland. The Church recognises that ‘by undertaking this core activity ecumenically, the Church is able to be better informed and have stronger influence on political debate’ (proposed deliverance May 2012).

The 11 other denominations are not particularly generous to SCPO. They contributed £8250 of the £93,111 cost of SCPO in 2013. The rest of the cost fell on the Church of Scotland (SCPO Annual report 2013)

So why did these churches have this privilege of government funding? Are there not some other organisations that might benefit from government funding so that they, too, might enhance the effectiveness of their lobbying with the Scottish Government and with the Scottish Parliament?

Should the Scottish Government have ever been involved in funding such activity?

ESS is investigating the size and duration of the Scottish Government grant to SCPO and would welcome any further relevant information.


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