Updated April 2024

Parochial Fees, tips for efficient accounting

Treasurer’s guide to Church of England's parochial fees

Understanding the intricate details of the Church of England's parochial fees can be daunting. These fees, established by the General Synod and Parliament, cover a wide range of church-related services. Here's a deep dive into what these fees entail and how Liberty Accounts can streamline their accounting process for church treasurers.

What are parochial fees?

Parochial fees are legally established amounts set aside for specific church services, such as weddings, baptisms, and funerals. The Fees Table, detailing all the parochial fees, undergoes an annual review and update.

Unpacking parochial fees: components and applicability

  • Parochial Church Council (PCC) Fees

    The part of fee that is given to PCC for certain ecclesiastical services. For example for the long-term upkeep of churchyards.

  • Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) Fees

    These fees are calculated based on the projected ministry costs and the expected hours needed to ensure a comprehensive ministry for a particular service.

  • Exclusions

    Certain services, like church heating and verger deployment, aren't covered by the statutory fees. However, PCCs have the discretion to charge additional fees for these services if the payer agrees.

  • Included services

    All costs and tasks tied to the routine administration of a service fall under parochial fees. Any charges exceeding the established parochial fee for these services are deemed illegal.

  • Right of waiver

    While the incumbent or priest-in-charge holds the right to waive PCC fees, it should be a case-by-case decision with a clear justification.

  • Chaplains and fees

    Chaplains aren't entitled to parochial fees. If they oversee a service with a prescribed parochial fee, these fees are directed to both the Diocesan Board of Finance and the Parochial Church Council. To lawfully oversee such a service, chaplains must acquire permission from the responsible minister.

Recent modifications to parochial fees

In 2011, the General Synod initiated a broad revision of the parochial fee legislation. Some of the significant changes include:

  • Diocesan board of finance fee as a replacement for the incumbent's fee.
  • Comprehensive service list, highlighting the services eligible for fee prescription.
  • The Archbishops' Council was endowed with the power to set fees that would remain valid for up to five years.
  • A clearer understanding was provided for fee calculation, making the costs within statutory fees explicit.

Furthermore, on February 8, 2023, the General Synod proposed an Amending Order before Parliament with the objective of diminishing the life events fees from March 2023 onwards.

Streamlining the accounting process with Liberty Accounts

For many Anglican church treasurers, managing the Church of England parochial fees has always been challenging. With the annual introduction of a new table of parochial fees, treasurers grapple with multiple fee categories and classifications.

Treasurers have to take care of the different parochial fees that apply for incumbent or retired/visiting ministers as well as the different classifications for the type of service.

Utilising Liberty Accounts online accounting and payroll software can drastically simplify this process. Using the "Sales Items" feature allows treasurers to efficiently invoice and categorise fees.

Sales Items are what will make up church's invoice, for example the breakdown of funeral costs:

  • Parish Fee for Funeral Service with the incumbent Minister
  • Diocese Fee for Funeral Service with the incumbent Minister
  • Organist fee for Funeral
  • Flowers etc.

Importantly these Sales Items can update both your income or liability accounts. So whist the Parish Fee item will record to an income account, the Diocese Fee item will record to a liability account.

Those fees that are due to the DBF should NOT be considered as income, Liberty Accounts allows for those elements of the fees to be recorded as a liability due to the Diocese.

The only thing the treasurer needs to do, while preparing the invoice, is to select the appropriate Sales Items, differentiating between parish and diocese fees, and whether they are recorded as an income or liability, and the system will then update the accounts automatically.

Once the invoice is prepared it can be printed/emailed to the ‘customer’.

Treasurer can be assured that the Income & Expenditure, Statement of Financial Activities, Return of Parish Finance and Balance Sheet reports will all reflect the correct values.

Additional Resources & Guidelines

For an even deeper understanding of parochial fees, consider visiting: Church of England's Guidelines on Parochial Fees

For assistance in setting up church accounts on Liberty Accounts, head to: Liberty Accounts Help Section

In conclusion, mastering the Church of England's parochial fees accounting is pivotal for church treasurers. With the assistance of platforms like Liberty Accounts, this task becomes significantly more manageable, ensuring accurate and lawful financial practices.

If you are not yet a user of Liberty Accounts Email us today or call on 0800 170 1150 to arrange a no obligation web presentation or simply try it out for yourself by registering for a FREE TRIAL.

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