Ecclesiastical Trusts and Parish Property

by Michael Ford last modified 13 Dec, 2018 02:36 PM

In the Diocese of Salisbury around 800 ecclesiastical and charitable trusts and parish properties are vested in the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF), as a Diocesan Authority and Custodian Trustee.

For the great majority of these trusts the PCC, or the Incumbent and Churchwardens of the parish concerned, are the managing trustees and are responsible for day to day management of trust affairs and property. However, Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) consent is required for legal transactions.

PCCs or Incumbents and Churchwardens wishing to enter into any legal transactions involving Trusts or PCC property are advised to seek guidance from the Trust Officer at an early stage in their planning. This is to ensure that the provisions of the relevant trust deed, the PCC (Powers) Measure or Incumbent and Churchwardens (Trusts) Measure and the requirements of the Charities Act 2011 are all taken in account. Further information on selling or buying PCC property here.

The Finance Committee of the Diocesan Board of Finance meets eight times a year and the Trust Report presented at each meeting may include requests for the Board’s approval of:

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

The majority of the ecclesiastical and charitable trusts are ‘excepted’ from registration with the Charity Commission. 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.

Click here to see answers to some frequently asked questions about parish trusts.

The 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 the Diocesan voluntary Land Registration project which ran between the years 2007 – 2011, almost all church land is registered with the Land Registry. For further details, see Voluntary Land Registration.

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