Chapter 3: Parish Finance

1.  Introduction

The important principles which govern the practical matters of parish finance are:

  1. All parochial administration, and particularly the way in which money is managed, should be based upon the principles of Christian Stewardship.
  2. Everything that is done, by the treasurer, by the gift aid secretary, by the Parochial Church Council (PCC) and by anyone else in the parish, should be in accordance with the current:
    1. Constitution of the Church in Wales;
    2. Charity legislation and “Accounting and Reporting by Charities – Statement of recommended Practice” issued by the Charity Commission.

i)  The Constitution of the Church in Wales
Volume One Chapter IVC, Section 8(4) includes details of the financial duties of the incumbent and Parish Council.
Volume Two Rules and Regulations (Accounting Regulations) sets out the accounting requirements specific to the Church in Wales
ii) Charity legislation and “Accounting and Reporting by Charities – Statement of Recommended Practice” issued by the Charity Commission
Members of PCCs should note that, regardless of whether your parish is required to register with the Charity Commission, you are a charity trustee.  Further guidance on the duties and responsibilities of PCC members/charity trustees may be found in Chapter 1 Section 5 of this Handbook, and also on the Charity Commission website:  www.charity-commission.gov.uk

2.  ACAT Handbook and Standard Form of Accounts for Parishes

The Church in Wales provides a copy of The Association of Church Accountants and Treasurers (ACAT) Handbook and regular updates for every parish. This document explains the financial administration requirements to meet legislative, tax, VAT and Charity Commission requirements and largely replaces the detailed advice previously provided in earlier versions of this Handbook.
In addition, and following a series of meetings with parish treasurers in 2009 and discussions with the dioceses, a Standard Form of Accounts for Parishes has been made available for Church in Wales parishes to adopt.  A series of spreadsheets has been developed by the Representative Body for parishes of different sizes, which enable parish treasurers to prepare accounts in accordance with the requirements of the Church in Wales and the Charity Commission, and which will link to a new format annual finance return from 2011.  The spreadsheets and further guidance may be found at: http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/resources/finance

3.  Charity Registration

As a result of the Charities Act 2006, all charities (including PCCs) whose income exceeds £100,0000 per annum are required to register with the Charity Commission.  You will be/will have been contacted by your diocese when it is time for your parish to register, and provided with detailed advice on the registration process.  Do not attempt to register unless you have been advised to do so by your diocese.  A step-by-step guide to registration can be found on the Church in Wales website: http://s3.amazonaws.com/cinw/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/PCC01.pdf
PCC members should be aware that they have the status and responsibilities of charity trustees regardless of whether or not their parish has registered with the Charity Commission.  See the guidance on trustee responsibility in Chapter 1, Section 5(v) of this Handbook (page 18).  Further guidance on the role of the charity trustee in the area of finance and accounting may also be found on the Charity Commission website: http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/publications/cc3.asp

4.  Trusts and Bequests

The Representative Body holds and administers Trusts and Bequests on behalf of parishes.  You should contact the Legal Department at the Provincial Office with all enquiries about historic or new trusts or bequests.

5.  Other Matters relating to Parish Finance

i)  Clergy Expenses
It is important that parishes adhere to the latest guidance on the reimbursement of clergy expenses to ensure that financial penalties are not incurred from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.  Parishes should refer to the booklet, A Guide to the Reimbursement of Expenses of Clergy in the Church in Wales which has been circulated to clergy.  Additional copies are available from the Provincial Office, and via the Church in Wales website:
http://cinw.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Parochial-Expenses-of-Clergy.pdf
ii)  Fees from Occasional Offices
Clergy and parishes may receive fees for the conduct of occasional offices such as marriages and burials.  Each year the Church in Wales agrees a schedule of burial fees with the Welsh Assembly Government, and copies of the schedule are sent to clergy for display in each church.  Additional copies may be obtained from the Provincial Office or via the Church in Wales website: http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/publications/downloads/#c
Fees related to marriages are not regulated by the Welsh Assembly Government.  However, in accordance with the policy of the Bench of Bishops a schedule of marriage fees is circulated annually by each diocesan bishop to their clergy with the guidance that these should be regarded as maximum fees to be charged.  The schedule is available on the Church in Wales website at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/cinw/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/C22.pdf

6.  Common Investment Fund

The Common Investment Fund is a collective investment scheme established by the Representative Body for the investment of monies belonging to or benefiting any charity for which the Representative Body is a trustee.  Bequests, parochial monies and trusts can therefore be invested in the Fund.  Further information about the Fund and its performance may be found in the latest annual report, which is available on the Church in Wales website: http://www.churchinwales.org.ukpublications/downloads/#i