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Charitable status

All PCCs are charities and are subject to the law relating to charities.

Currently PCCs with incomes over £100,000 a year need to register with the Charity Commission. Smaller PCCs are currently excepted from registering with the Charity Commission by statute which means that they do not have a Registered Charity number. For some grant applications and other purposes, you can supply the Inland Revenue “Gift Aid” claims reference number as a substitute, but you should be clear that this is what you are supplying. The Charity number for Norwich Diocesan Board of Finance Ltd should not be used by a PCC.

Does this mean that PCC members are trustees?
Yes! PCC members fulfil the same roles and have the same responsibilities as trustees.

Does the PCC have to follow the Charity Commission’s Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) accounting and reporting rules?
Yes, it does. Detailed guidance on this is provided at on the Accounting and Reporting pages.

Are some people excluded from being trustees? Can they be members of the PCC?
Paragraph 46A of the Church Representation Rules should ensure that people are not elected to PCCs, who are disqualified from acting as charity trustees. PCCs should do what is reasonable to ensure that the PCC does not contain any individuals disqualified from acting as a charity trustee and that the persons appointed are suitable. Guidance on eligibility for trustees can be found on the Charity Commission’s website.

Charity law

Note that the Charities Act 2011 is now in force, and has consolidated and repealed a number of earlier statutory provisions, including the Charities Acts 1992 and 1993 and much of the Charities Act 2006. Individual members of the PCC will be in the same position as trustees of a charity. Helpful guidance on this is available from the Charity Commission. Their website contains a number of useful guidance leaflets, including:

  • CC3 – The Essential Trustee – What You Need to Know ‘ This sets out guidance on the main duties and responsibilities of trustees.
  • CC18 – Use of Church Halls for Village Halls and Other Charitable Purposes ‘ Note that the Legal Department of the Archbishop’s Council has circulated some advice regarding the application of the Licensing Act 2003 to churches and church halls with regard to ‘regulated entertainment’.
  • CC21a – Registering as a Charity ‘ This sets out guidance on the requirements for registration of charities with the Charity Commission. The Charity Commission has announced that with effect from 1 March 2012, it will be compulsory for a person applying to register a charity to submit all supporting documents at the point of application. Previously that was not obligatory. The Commission also makes clear that all applications to register must now be completed exclusively online.

The online application system will guide you through the process of applying to register. Once you have completed the first six screens, depending on your type of governing document, you will receive an application reference number. When you have received this number you can save the form at any time and come back to it another time. To help you complete your on-line application you can view the Commission’s guidance notes.

Before you start you will need to have copies of your governing document, bank statement and other supporting documents as PDF files because they must be attached at the time you submit your application. When you complete your online application a Trustee Declaration will be generated automatically for the trustees to sign; however, those who prefer to have the Trustee Declaration completed prior to starting the application can download the manual declaration.

The Parish Resources website also contains useful material on the role and duties of PCCs.