PCC Accounts & Returns

Image of an old accounting calculator on a bright yellow background

COVID-19 Update

The deadline for holding Annual Church Parochial Meetings (APCMs) for 2020 is 30 June 2021.

PCCs should not delay completing and submitting their 2020 Return of Parish Finance, as this can be done online in the usual way as soon as the PCC's 2020 financial statements have been prepared and independently examined.  

We would ask all PCCs to do their best to submit their 2020 Return of Parish Finance online by 31 May 2021.  (The online return system will close officially on 18 June 2021, and we don't want to miss this deadline!)  This will allow us to have a fairly up-to-date view of parish finances, which will be particularly valuable as we look to understand more clearly the financial challenges that our parishes may be facing in the coming months.  We would also ask that PCCs to their best to submit their independently examined 2020 Report & Accounts by 31 May 2021.  A PCC should send a copy of their 2020 Report & Accounts to the diocesan Finance Team as soon as they're approved by the PCC.  You do not need to wait for these to be presented and adopted at your APCM. 

Please do email a member of the diocesan Finance Team if you have any further questions about this.  Thank you for your continued support during these unusual times.


Year-end Accounts Checklist

To guide a Treasurer through the year-end accounting and reporting process, please refer to and complete our Finance checklist Further guidance on each part of the process is available as follows:

Accounting & Reporting

All Parochial Church Councils in the Diocese of Hereford, regardless of size or whether they are registered with the Charity Commission, are bound by charity law.  This means every PCC has a legal duty to produce a Trustees' Annual Report and Accounts, and make them publicly available, even if the PCC is not required to file them with the Charity Commission. This is because the 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 public benefit.

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.

The Parish Resources website has a wealth of information to help you prepare a set of accounts, including:

Two different methods of accounting are permissible, depending on the gross income of the PCC: Receipts & Payments, or Accruals accounts.

Receipts & Payments Accounts

If the gross income of your PCC is less than £250,000 you can choose to prepare your accounts on a 'Receipts and Payments' basis. This is a simpler form of accounting which records cash moving in and out of the PCC’s bank accounts during the financial year.  

Accruals Accounts

Parishes with gross incomes greater than £250,000 must produce accounts on the 'accruals' basis, which provides a more accurate view of the PCC’s financial position.

Trustees' Annual Report

Alongside each year’s accounts, a PCC must present a Trustees’ Annual Report.  The Charity Commission has issued some rules on what must be covered. There is also guidance on writing the Trustees’ Annual Report available. All PCC members have collective responsibility for the annual report, although typically the PCC Secretary and Treasurer will take a lead in its preparation, with input and support from the Incumbent or Priest-in-Charge.

The annual report and accounts provide an important opportunity for trustees to 'take stock' of what the PCC has achieved over the last year and to demonstrate to supporters, potential funders and the public that the PCC has met its objectives and managed its resources effectively, and explain the difference that it has made to its intended beneficiaries.

Letter of appointment

It is recommended that in order to reduce the chance of any misunderstanding, the independent examiner should write to the PCC detailing its accounting responsibilities and the examiner’s statutory responsibilities. The content of the letter should be agreed with the PCC, and a model appointment letter can be accessed here:

Independent Examination

The Parish Resources website contains detailed information on appointing and working with an Independent Examiner, including a summary of new Directions for independent examiners issued by the Charity Commission for the 2017 year-end and onwards.

A model Independent Examiner's Report for Receipts & Payments accounts as amended for fees* can be found as follows:

If your PCC prepares its accounts on an accruals (SORP FRS 102) basis, then your Independent Examiner should use the latest template issued by the Charity Commission for England & Wales:

Further guidance can be found on the Parish Resources website.

*During 2016, the Diocese discovered that a few isolated parishes/team ministries had not been accounting for statutory fees in the prescribed manner. In order to confirm that parishes are reporting statutory fees correctly, we request all Independent Examiners to perform some additional work while examining the PCC’s Report & Accounts. In particular, the Independent Examiner should:

  • understand the process by which statutory fees are recorded and then paid over to the Diocese in accordance with the table of parochial fees as published nationally by the Church of England; and
  • take a sample of weddings and funerals during the year, based on the fee income in the accounts and then ensure that the correct payment was made to the Diocese.

Many PCCs do not handle statutory fees directly, but rather they are administered by a team office. In these instances, the parish will only receive the PCC element of the fee, and the team office will pay over the Diocesan element. In these situations, once the independent examiner has satisfied him/herself that they understand how fees are dealt with no further work on fees need be undertaken.

How to calculate gross income

For accounts prepared on the Receipts and Payments basis, gross income is the total receipts shown in the statement from all sources excluding the receipt of any endowment. For accounts prepared on an Accruals basis, gross income is the total incoming resources shown on the Statement of Financial Activities, including any amount transferred to income funds from endowment funds in order to be available for spending, but excluding the receipt of any endowment.

Annual Return of Parish Finance

The Return of Parish Finance provides a valuable, up-to-date snapshot of the financial strength of each parish, allowing the Diocese to respond appropriately to local needs. It also enables central Church of England teams to make informed decisions about resourcing across all dioceses.

We do ask parishes to complete their Return of Parish Finance through the Church of England's online parish return system.  This enables PCCs to access trend information over time, as well as allowing deanery and diocesan teams to view data quickly.

The Return of Parish Finance should be completed via this system once the year-end accounts have been completed.  The deadline for completion of the Return of Parish Finance is the 31st of May each year.

Once in the system, simply click on the ‘Enter your data’ link to start the process of entering your figures. You will note that the layout uses tabs on the left hand side of the screen to show the different parts of the form. As they are filled in, the colour changes from red to orange (partially filled in) or green (fully filled in). Once all the tabs are green you'll be ready to submit your return!

The online form contains simple guidance on the figures to be included under each heading category.  For detailed guidance, you may wish to refer to pages 29-34 of PCC Accountability document. Hard copies of this guide are available on request from the diocesan Finance team.

If you've not completed the Return of Parish Finance online before, you may find this parish returns system guide helpful.

Should you need a reminder of your log-in details for the online parish return system, please email Mrs Kerry Preedy or call her on 01432 373300.

If a PCC is genuinely unable to access the online Parish Returns system, they should download and complete the 2020 Return of Parish Finance form (in Excel) in full, and email the form to the Finance Team or post it to:

Finance Team,
Diocesan Office,
The Palace, Palace Yard,
HEREFORD,
HR4 9BL

Budget

Every PCC should set an annual budget at the start of each year – a plan that sets out:

  • how much money the PCC has
  • how much it plans to raise
  • how much it plans to spend.

The PCC Treasurer should check regularly (at least once a quarter, but more frequently if you're a larger PCC) that income and expenditure are aligned to the budget in any given period, and report on this at PCC meetings.  You should raise any issues (like a significant over- or under-spend) as soon as possible, and take prompt action to address any shortfalls in income and/or reduce or defer expenditure.

Budget template (Excel)


Finance Checklist

There are a few simple steps for a PCC Treasurer to follow at the end of each financial year. These include:

  • Prepare annual Report & Accounts.
  • Arrange to meet with your Independent Examiner to discuss the Report & Accounts, and provide any supporting documentation requested.
  • Present Report & Accounts at a PCC meeting for approval and signature prior to the APCM.
  • Obtain Independent Examiner's report and signature, and include with Report & Accounts.
  • Display Report & Accounts for at least 7 days prior to APCM.
  • Present Report & Accounts for approval at APCM.
  • Appoint Independent Examiner for the next financial year at APCM.
  • Send a copy of the signed Report & Accounts to the Finance Team at the diocesan office (no later than 31 May)
  • Complete the annual Return of Parish Finance in the Church of England's online parish return system (by 31 May)

To help you through the year-end process, we've prepared a simple checklist, which you can download in PDF or Word versions.

You may find it useful to complete this checklist and send it with your annual Report & Accounts.