Practical Matters

This page covers guidance on: retention of records; data protection; car mileage; utility costs; insurance; recovering VAT on repair work; avoiding metal theft.

Records Management – Keep or Bin

Keep or Bin is the Church of England guidance for PCCs on records management.

Of particular relevance to treasurers are the retention of annual accounts and the underlying accounting records.

  • Accounting records must be retained for 6 years after the end of the accounting year. So in 2015, you should have retained the full records for 2009-2014 inclusive. Gift Aid declarations are undated and should be kept as long as they are valid and for 6 years thereafter. Disposal should be by secure destruction.
  • Annual accounts should be kept permanently. Sending a copy to the Diocesan Office does not fulfil this requirement. If the PCC does not wish to retain them, The South West Heritage Trust ( formerly the Somerset county archive service) is designated as the Diocesan Record Office and can accept deposits of older records.

It is important that governing documents for trust funds and conditions attached to any legacy are retained and passed on to succeeding treasurers.

Data Protection

Every PCC should have a data protections policy.  Stewardship has produced a helpful data protection guide and there is helpful guidance on the Information Commissioner’s website.

Diocesan recommended car mileage rate

Included in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s March 2011 Budget was an announcement that the higher rate of Approved Mileage Allowance Payments would be increased from 40p to 45p per mile with effect from 6 April 2011.

The HMRC tax allowable rate remains at 45p per mile. It is up to each PCC to individually decide the appropriate car mileage rate for expense claimants. It is an important principle that claimants should not personally be out-of-pocket when required to use their own cars on parish work. Claimants may choose to claim less to match their deemed expenditure, eg because they drive a small economical car. Please note that any re-imbursement over the HMRC rate of 45p per mile will attract a tax liability.

Saving money on gas and electricity

The Church of England has developed guidance on minimising utility costs and buying gas and electricity to support parishes with this. You can find both of these downloads at the bottom of the page.

We are also working in partnership with Charity Funding Solutions to provide a cost-free benchmarking service for our parish treasurers and clergy. Parishes using the CFS service have made annual savings ranging from £150 to over £1,500, with average energy cost savings of approximately 20%. Further details of this benchmarking service are available below. Parish utility costs survey form is also available below.

Insurance

Churchwardens have the primary responsibility to maintain adequate insurance cover. Insurance is needed for buildings and their contents, for public liability and for employer’s liability where the PCC has employees.

The diocese recommends insurance through the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group. There is a designated telephone line for churches (local rate number) 0845 777 3322 and email. Premiums should be competitive and parishes are at liberty to seek quotations and cover from other companies.

Many more details concerning church and hall insurance can be found on the Ecclesiastical website.

Insuring events involving more than one parish

PCCs should check with their insurers the adequacy of insurances. The general advice from Ecclesiastical is that, for instance, a group ministry/council event would need separate insurances to those held by the participating PCCs.

Metal Theft

Parishes are encouraged to use SmartWater as a deterrent. Find out more about SmartWater and theft of metal on the Ecclesiastical Insurance website. Download a Theft of Metal – Victim Impact Statement at the bottom of this page.

Claims for assistance/travel during a vacancy

A Vacancy Claim form is available on our Employment & Expenses webpage (linked below), for payment to Clergy/Readers for assistance and/or travelling expenses during a vacancy.

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