The church accounts must be kept for the calendar year ending 31 December, according to section 8 (1) of the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956. The Charities Act 2011 section 133 provides that church accounts may be prepared on either a Receipts and Payments basis or an Accruals basis, unless the total gross income exceeds £250,000 a year when Accruals must be used. An annual report of the PCC’s activities, in statutory format, should accompany the accounts. Detailed provisions as to PCC accounts are made in regulations under the Charities Act 2011. All PCC Treasurers should have to hand a separate handbook on this issue (PCC Accountability, The Charities Act 2011 and the PCC) .
Accurate records of the funds and property of the church should be kept by the PCC and presented to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM). The published accounts should contain either a Statement of Assets and Liabilities (Receipts and Payments accounts) or a Balance Sheet (Accruals accounts).
The accounts, having been independently examined or audited as required, shall be submitted to a meeting of the PCC for approval. Once approved, they are to be signed by the person presiding at the meeting and displayed for at least seven continuous days before the APCM – including at least one Sunday when the church is used for worship – on a notice board either inside or outside the church. The accounts are to be considered and received at the APCM and after that meeting again displayed, this time for at least 14 days. One copy of the accounts must be submitted to the Secretary of the Diocesan Board of Finance c/o the Finance Department at The Old Deanery, Wells. If the PCC is a registered charity, a copy of the accounts will also need to be filed with the Charity Commission.
It is recommended that, at least once in every five years, the independent examiner/auditor is invited to attend the PCC and present the audited accounts. This may be particularly important in cases where the independent examiner/auditor has expressed serious reservations on the accounts.
Procedure when accounts are not complete
In the event of the accounts not being complete at the date of the APCM, the meeting should be adjourned if necessary until such time as the accounts are ready for presentation. The APCM has no power to delegate to the incoming PCC the power to pass the accounts.
Retention of records
The Charities Act 2011 section 134 provides that accounting records shall be preserved for at least six years from the end of the financial year of the charity in which they are made. It is, however, important that governing documents for trust funds and details of conditions attached to any legacy are retained and passed on to succeeding treasurers.