Photo courtesy of Angela Reeve.

All parochial church councils in the Diocese of Lincoln, regardless of size or whether they are registered with the Charity Commission, are bound by charity law. This means that every PCC has a legal duty to produce a trustee’s annual report and accounts, and make then publicly available and return a copy to the Finance Department at Edward King House, even if the PCC is not required to file them with the Charity Commission. This is because the Charity Commission expects every charity to inform the public each year about its purpose, achievements, and how it has spent its money. In particular, the annual report must set out the PCC’s activities for the public benefit.

Please find a guide to being a successful parish treasurer, as created by our finance department. In it you will find useful guides for all of your responsibilities as treasurer, as they relate to our policies in the Diocese of Lincoln. 

To aid with the preparation of your annual financial accounts and reporting, please also find an example of parish accounts.

The Church of England has an excellent publication to help PCCs meet their reporting responsibilities: PCC Accountability: The Charities Act 2011 and PCC (5th edition) can be read online, or purchased from the Diocesan Finance Office for £5. The book covers all areas of producing the annual report and accounts, including a full set of example accounts.

Different Types of Funds

The following guidance over the different types of funds you might be asked to handle comes from the Parish Resources web site, where there is lots more helpful material.

There are three types of funds which are specified in the Charity Commission’s regulations and which need to be clearly identified in the PCC’s annual financial statements. It should be remembered that the members of the PCC are the Trustees of all the funds under their control.

  1. Unrestricted Fund

An example of an unrestricted fund would be the general fund. These are monies which are under the control of the PCC and which can be spent on any purpose it deems fit. This covers items such as income from collections, or payment of expenses, regular running costs, etc.

Designated Funds (which are a part of Unrestricted Funds)

Funds may be set aside out of an unrestricted fund for a specific purpose, such as the replacement of vestments or service books, which would then be known as a designated fund. However, this would not then prevent the PCC subsequently reallocating these sums for other uses, or returning them to unrestricted funds.

  1. Restricted fund

This is money which can only be used for a specific purpose from the outset. An example would be the income from a parish fund-raising event which was clearly identified as being in aid of the repair fund. The money could thus only be spent on the purpose identified. In trying to decide if a fund is restricted, it is important to ask about the donor’s intention. Did the donor(s) give the money for a particular purpose, either because they specified a particular purpose or the church communicated verbally or in writing that funds would be used for a particular purpose? If so, the money is almost certainly a restricted fund. They cannot be added to unrestricted funds without the consent of the donor or the Charity Commission. You can download this document with the latest guidelines for handling Restricted funds.

  1. Endowment fund

This is a fund of money which has come to the church or PCC with the specific instruction that only the interest generated by the money can be spent. For example, the proceeds of a legacy which specifies that the original sum is to be used to endow funds for the replacement of service books.

COVID-19 outbreak

The Charity Commission for England and Wales has produced a new ten page document 'Guidance for Independent Examiners during COVID-19 or in a time of national emergency'. You can read the document here.

This is an addition to the CC32 document 'Independent examination of charity accounts: examiners' which can be read here.

For any further information or questions please contact the Finance Department on 01522 504056.