Support and guidance for parishes
The Parish Resources website, a site maintained by the National Stewardship Team, has a section COVID-19 financial guidance which is being continually updated.
At the time of writing, this page covered guidance on:
- Government Support Measures;
- Templates to enable donors who cannot give through their weekly envelopes to set up standing orders;
- Advice and support on using alternative giving methods, including resources for online giving.
This guidance can be found at this link www.parishresources.org.uk/coronavirus/ and we would recommend checking this page on a regular basis.
Handling statutory parochial fees Due to social distancing, it has become difficult for cheques to be countersigned as people are told to stay at home. This presents difficulties when administering statutory fees. We are therefore offering the following suggestions as to how parochial fees could be handled in the current circumstances.
Where there is a service in the churchyard Where there is a proportion of the fee due to the DBF and this fee is due to be paid by cheque, the PCC may consider requesting two cheques, one being for the PCC proportion of the fee (plus any extras) and a separate cheque for the DBF proportion of the fee. The DBF cheque can then be sent directly to Diocesan House for banking. If the PCC choose to proceed with this option, they should ensure that this is recorded on their quarterly fee return to ensure that the fee can be reconciled with diocesan records in case of cheques being lost in the post.
Alternative to sending cheques If a PCC currently has a direct debit request lodged for Parish Share, we are considering offering the option to parishes for their fees to be collected in this manner. Initially, we are gauging whether there is sufficient interest to proceed, and if you feel this would be of benefit, please email James South (email@example.com) who will monitor interest and contact you in due course.
Where the services are held in a crematorium or cemetery In terms of services at the crematorium, since 1 January 2020, the full statutory fee is now legally due to the DBF and if they wish, funeral directors can send the payment directly to us by bank transfer. We have found that some, but not all funeral directors are able to do this. If they wish to proceed with this process, could you please ask them to provide a remittance advice to Ben Tooke (firstname.lastname@example.org) with details of the service (date and name of the deceased) and the parish in which the deceased lived. If the funeral director does not know the parish, then if they could provide the address of the deceased’s usual place of residence, we can determine the parish in which they lived. This ensures that, per the decision made earlier this year by the Bishop’s Staff and DBF Executive, the amount of £30 for these services can be credited to Parish Share for the correct parish.
The bank account details for funeral directors to use are as follows:
- Account Name: NDBF Ltd Sort Code: 20-62-61
- Account Number: 30674508 Reference: Either parish name or reference used on remittance advice.
To ensure that we receive any fees that are to be paid directly, I should be grateful if you could also send Ben an email advising him of the funerals which you are expecting funeral directors to pay directly us so we can reconcile these to the funds received.
Grants for parishes The Heritage Emergency Fund has been launched offering grants of £3,000 to £50,000 to support charities which would include PCCs within its scope. Of the grants available, this one may be of the most benefit for PCCs to consider. Full details and criteria can be found at the following link: www.heritagefund.org.uk/news/heritage-emergency-fundlaunches- help-sector. In response to the Archbishops’ and Bishops’ call, many parishes have responded to the current challenge to work with their community in new ways. In turn,grant making bodies are coming forwards awarding grants to support this work.
Whilst the list of grant making bodies providing support is growing, a regularly updated list of bodies can be found in this link:www.grantsonline.org.uk/coronavirus.html
Although some bodies have geographical restrictions or focus on particular areas of need, there may be opportunities for outreach work to be supported. Understandably, the grants are focussed very much in supporting charities where the work is focussed on the current crisis rather than usual church activities.
Excepted charity statements Most churches are ‘Excepted Charities’ and are therefore not registered with the Charity Commission. However, when completing online forms, churches are often asked to prove their charitable status. ‘A Church Near You’ editors can log into their account and download their church(es) certificate in PDF format. Click on ‘Edit’ next to your church, then select ‘More information’ and scroll to the bottom of the page.
This statement can serve as a certificate for churches requiring proof of their charity status whenregistering for online and cardbased giving or completing grant applications. You can watch a useful video guide showing how to download your statement: https://vimeo.com/413174091 Please remember though that if your income is over £100,000 that you have to apply for your own charity number.
How does the Gift Aid Small Donations scheme (GASDs) work during lockdown? GASDs rules have been relaxed for weekly giving envelopes from non-taxpayers as a result of church closures due to the COVID-19 crisis. During the COVID-19 crisis HMRC would accept separate weekly envelopes containing £30 or less given when the churches reopen as eligible for GASDs. Alternatively, one envelope with an accompanying letter/ declaration which clearly states how much was being donated each week would also be eligible. For example, if a donor sends £40 “to cover the next four weeks” then this would be eligible as £10 per week, provided it is made clear (with dates provided for the weeks covered) that it is four separate donations in the same envelope.
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