Collectively the parishes within our diocese receive more than £20m each year towards their mission and ministry, so it is important that we properly account for what our communities entrust to us. Producing an Annual Report is a legal requirement, and part of your PCC's stewardship.
Information on this page
Why do you need an annual report?
Your annual report is a summary of your PCC and church community's aims, activities and achievements.
If your church's total income is more than £100,000 your PCC must register directly with the Charity Commission to retain the benefits of charitable status. This task need not be arduous.
Your church MUST publish an annual report each year, whether or not it is registered with the Charity Commission.
The Charity Commission has defined the format of an Annual Report, as it is a legal document. Your PCC must complete an Annual Report following Charity Commission guidance, and present this report to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM).
What do we include in an Annual Report?
The Church of England guide PCC Accountability defines what you need to include in your PCC's Annual Report. Your PCC must present it at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) each year. It does not include the minutes of the APCM or any progress report the Vicar, or any other leader or group, might make. The full report must include three elements:
- the annual Trustees Report - a narrative summarising key information and your PCC and church community's achievements
- the annual Accounts (Financial Statements) of the PCC
- the Independent Examiner's Report (or, where applicable, an auditor's report) which offers some independent assessment of the financial reporting and situation of the church.
Your PCC must submit all three elements of the Annual Report before or at your deanery Archdeacon's Visitation service each year. If your PCC is registered with the Charity Commission, you must submit it to them too.
Under charity law, as a PCC member, you are a trustee of a charity and the Trustees' Report is your story. You and your colleagues have a duty to complete a narrative report on your PCC's activities each year, which demonstrates what the parish has done and how the parish was governed, as well as who was responsible for its buildings, maintenance and operations.
However, as in Ezekiel's vision, the dry bones of this information need breath and spirit to make them live. Your story should capture your parish's life and energy, mission and ministry, and celebrate your church's aims and achievements in the past year.
Your PCC needs to own and agree the content of your narrative Trustees' Report prior to the APCM, where it must be presented and the metting asked to receive it along with the annual accounts and Independent Examiners' Report.
Essential items required by charity law
The Trustees' Report must include a number of statements of key information. We have produced a template to ensure that you are able to include all the required information in the prescribed format. Key information includes,
- Name & address:
Your PCC must state the name by which it is known locally, the address of each licensed place of worship in the parish, and its official correspondence address.
- Public benefit:
Charity law requires that your PCC must demonstrate how you have provided 'public benefit' as defined in the Charity Commission's guidance. To fulfil this legal requirement, we suggest that your PCC includes, within the Objectives and Activities section of your Annual Report, the following statement:
'When planning its activities for the year the PCC gave consideration to the Charity Commission's guidance on public benefit'.
This requirement is essential to comply with the Charity Commission's guidance.
- Parochial Church Council's function
Your PCC's legal responsibilities and functions are all predefined in law, so it is enough for your PCC to refer to the relevant legislation within your Annual Report. For example:
'The general functions of the PCC are stated within section 2 of the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956'.
- Grants made to others
Charities are not always expected to do everything themselves - it is acceptable for one charity to give a grant to another charity, as long as the receiving charity shares similar objectives to the giving charity. To be transparent in your grant giving, your PCC must list all the charities that you have given a grant to, regardless of the size of the grant or whether it was unrestricted or restricted funds.
- Reserves policy
Your PCC must agree and publish a policy on how much you aim to maintain in financial reserves. If your reserves exceed this value, you will be expected to explain why and how you will rectify the situation.
- Agent transactions / Custodian Trusteeship
Your PCC will act as an agent for at least one other charity and so handle money that does not belong to your PCC; for example the statutory fees your PCC receives that you must forward on to the Diocese. You need to list every charity for whom your PCC has acted as an agent . It is also good practice to declare the total amount of money your PCC has handled on behalf of the other charity. If you have made payments to organists and vergers as agency transactions, you must also summarise these.
- Trustees' Report headings
Your PCC should also lay out your narrative report in a structured format. We suggest the following headings:
- Aims and Purposes
- Objectives and Activities
- Achievements and Performance
- Financial Review
- Structure, Governance and Management
- Administrative Information
For additional guidance about what you should report under each heading, please contact our Resources Team on 0151 705 2180 or email email@example.com.
Independent Examiner's Report
In addition to your own annual report and accounts, you will need to provide a report from someone outside the PCC to ensure that you have complied with the Charities Act.
Each year your Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM), with guidance from the PCC, must appoint an Independent Examiner, someone independent of the Trustees of the church (i.e. the PCC members and their families), to examine the annual accounts and offer an opinion on those accounts.
To give good advice the PCC needs to understand what the Independent Examiner is expected to do, what information they need to do it and what they will report on. It is important for the PCC to give enough time to finding the right person for the job.
Sometimes this is referred to as an 'audit' but this is not usually the correct tern as only churches with an income in excess of £1,000,000 are required to have a formal audit of their accounts.
Independent Examination is a less intensive form of financial examination for charities with an annual income below £1,000,000. If your PCC's total annual income is between £250,000 and £1,000,000, your Independent Examiner must hold specific qualifications and registrations defined within the Charities Act.
It is also a legal requirement that the formal Independent Examiner's report references the correct legislation.