Trusts

Board of Finance

The Diocesan Board of Finance is Custodian Trustee for a large number of ecclesiastical trusts (listed below) including church repair funds, proceeds of sale of halls and other PCC property, Incumbent and Churchwardens’ trusts and funds and parish halls and offices.

The Diocesan Board of Finance Trust Officer also provides informal advice to Incumbents and Churchwardens who are ex-officio trustees of non-ecclesiastical parish charities (listed below). These are often for the benefit of the poor of the parish.

For information on PCC Trusts and Incumbent and Churchwardens’ Trusts in your parish please contact the Trust and Property Registration Officer listed below.


Board of Education

The Diocesan Board of Education administers those educational trusts for which it is custodian trustee. This includes the Bishop Wordsworth Educational Trust. 


Ecclesiastical trusts and parish property

The diocese has around 800 ecclesiastical and charitable trusts and parish properties vested in the Diocesan Board of Finance.

For the great majority, the PCC, or the Incumbent and Churchwardens of the parish concerned, are the managing trustees. They are responsible for day-to-day management of trust affairs and property. But they need not act alone. The DBF must give its consent to legal transactions.

If you are a PCC or Incumbent and Churchwarden wishing to enter into any legal transactions involving Trusts or PCC property, you should meet with the Trust Officer early in the planning process.

This is to make sure that the trust deed, the PCC (Powers) Measure 1921 and 1956 or Incumbent and Churchwardens (Trusts) Measure 1964 and the requirements of the Charities Act 2011 are all considered.

For further information on selling or buying PCC property download this document.

The Diocesan Board of Finance has approval of: 

The Finance Committee of the Diocesan Board of Finance meets at least eight times a year and presents a Trust Report to the Board at each meeting. The report may include requests for approval of the following: 

  • Acquisitions or disposals (sale or lease) of property held under the provisions of the PCC (Powers) Measures 1921 and 1956 

  • Sale or lease of property held under the Incumbents and Churchwardens (Trusts) Measure 1964 or specific trust deeds 

  • Expenditure of proceeds of sale of the above 

  • Applications to the Charity Commission for Schemes or Orders 

  • Applications to the Charity Commission to wind up a small Trust under sections 268-273 and 278 of the Charities Act 2011 (small charities provisions) 

  • Release of capital, where allowed by the trust deed 

  • Vesting of new trusts 

A number of ecclesiastical and charitable trusts are ‘excepted’ from registration with the Charity Commission. (This exception has been extended until 31 March 2031). It is only churches in large parishes, with an annual turnover in excess of £100,000, that must register with the Charity Commission and receive their own charity registration number. 

Our Trust Officer also provides general guidance to parochial officials on charities not vested with the Board (non-ecclesiastical parish charities). They have the responsibility of being ex-officio trustees by virtue of their ecclesiastical office. 

Following a voluntary Land Registration project between 2007 and 2011, almost all church land is now registered with the Land Registry. For further details, see Voluntary Land Registration. 

FAQ

Who owns our Parish Hall?

The majority of church halls are owned either by the Incumbent and Churchwardens or by the PCC and vested in the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF). The deeds of these halls and other parish property and trusts are held at Church House. For further details, contact the Trust Officer. Where a hall is built as an extension to the church, on church curtilage, it is likely to be vested in the Incumbent and if there are any deeds these will be held by the Diocesan Registrar. [WORTHERS-CMS-SEARCH-DiocesanRegistrar].
 
 
A parishioner has left the PCC some money in their will; does it have to be vested in the Board of Finance?

If the legacy is an outright gift, it need not be vested in the DBF. If the money is left in trust (i.e. the wording of the will is on the lines of "£xxx to be held in trust and the income applied to…") then the legacy must be vested in the DBF. The DBF will hold the capital and the income will be mandated to the PCC.
 
 
Someone has given us shares. Whose name should we register them in?

Even if the shares are an outright gift, it may be most practical to have them held in the Diocesan Board of Finance's name, as the nominee for the PCC or Incumbent and Churchwardens. This saves the administrative effort of changing the details of the registered holders when there are changes of PCC officers.
 
 
Our PCC has several very small funds vested in the DBF. Can we use the money to pay for re-ordering the church?

If the income of the fund is less than £1,000 a year, it may be eligible to be wound up under the small charities provisions of the Charities Act 2011. The process is simple and DBF consent will be required. For further details, please contact the Trust Officer.
 
 
We have been asked for a copy of the PCC’s constitution, where can this be found?

The PCC can’t provide a copy of its constitution as there is no such thing. A PCC exists as a matter of law. It is a statutory corporation with charitable status pursuant to the Synodical Government Measure 1969, and the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956 section 3 and legislation subsidiary to that.
 
 
Does the PCC have to register with the Charity Commission?

The majority of the ecclesiastical and charitable trusts are ‘excepted’ from registration with the Charity Commission. (This ‘exception’ has been extended until 31 March 2031). It is only PCCs of large parishes, with an annual turnover in excess of £100,000, which are required to register with the Charity Commission and will have their own charity registration number.
 

 


Non-ecclesiastical parish trusts

In some parishes the Incumbent and Churchwardens are trustees of secular trusts or charities set up before 1894, which is when Parish Councils were established.

These charities often have a very small amount of capital that was intended to provide income for the relief of poverty (e.g. coal and blankets to elderly parishioners at Christmas).

The Charity Commission will usually take a pragmatic view if the trustees make a well-considered proposal to wind up the charity by transferring its funds to another charity with similar objects or spending the capital on a modern equivalent of the original objects.

These charities are not ecclesiastical and need not be included in the PCC Annual Report and Accounts.

Incumbents and Churchwardens who are ex-officio trustees of non-ecclesiastical charities can obtain informal advice from the Diocesan Board of Finance Trust Officer.


Contact the Property and Trusts Team

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