Section F. Admin for clergy and lay ministers
F16. Parochial and other fees
1. The key guide to this is published by the Archbishops’ Council “A Guide to Church of England Parochial Fees” and is available on line at: Life events parochial fees and guidance together with FAQs.
2. The Table of Parochial Fees is published by the Archbishops’ Council following approval by General Synod and Parliament. That Table is also available through the weblink above.
3. In general, the DBF fee relates to the provision of authorised ministry (the costs of which are usually borne by a DBF) and the PCC fee relates to church buildings and local administration.
4. There are some exceptions to the usual arrangements:
- Under transitional arrangements operating from 1 January 2013 some incumbents were able to opt retain the DBF fee with consequent adjustment of the augmentation of their stipend, but in this diocese this is limited to a very small number. Those incumbents have received written confirmation of the arrangements that apply in their case. The PCC fee is not affected by these arrangements.
- Parochial fees do not apply to “extra parochial places”. In this diocese this covers the Cathedral, the Beauchamp Community in Newland, Saint Edmund King & Martyr in Dudley and Laslett’s Almhouses in Worcester.
- Since 1st May 2019, by a change in the law, parochial fees have not applied to matters which relate to duties carried out in the course of employment by a university, college, school, hospital or public or charitable institution. When there is a service in church / the churchyard or burial / memorial in the churchyard the PCC fee is not affected by these arrangements.
- The DBF assigns (i.e. donates) its fees to the relevant hospice when duties are carried out by a hospice chaplain in the course of their work for the hospice (see paragraphs 25 – 29) below for more details). Since 1st May 2019 this only applies to volunteer chaplains as parochial fees do not apply to matters which relate the duties of an employed hospice chaplain carried out in the course of that employment. The PCC fee is not affected by these arrangements.
5. This paper gives guidelines designed to ensure that parochial fees received are properly accounted for and that clergy, PCC treasurers and the DBF are adequately protected when it comes to accounting for them.
6. A first point of contact for questions about these arrangements is the Finance Team at the Diocesan Office.
Itemised Forms for Payment of Wedding and Funeral Fees
7. With regards to making arrangements for funerals the funeral director will contact the incumbent / priest in charge / vicar in a team ministry or such person (e.g. parish administrator, or a member of the parish’s ministry team) as they from time to time delegate such matters to.
8. It is open to PCCs to agree joint arrangements for the handling of fees. This may be particularly relevant where there are several parishes in the area of a benefice or, e.g, where the incumbent is priest in charge of another benefice.
A joint arrangement might be more convenient for those clergy, PCC treasurers and Diocesan Office. Where PCCs agree such arrangements it is essential that the Finance Team at the Diocesan Office is advised accordingly.
9. “The Church of England’s “National Support Hub” website has a downloadable form to help set out wedding fees in an itemised format, so couples can be clear about how much they need to pay for their ceremony. This “Weddings Fees Form” is available here: https://churchsupporthub.org/download/wedding-fees-form-2019/
In parallel we have a diocesan form for funerals in similar format which is available here: Funeral fees form (PDF) (Note: right-click the link and click 'Save Link as' or similar. Open the document in a PDF Reader. If you fill out the document in your browser window you may not be able to save your information.)
10. These forms are designed for the minister conducting the service (or e.g. Parish Administrator) to simply enter the details for each service on-screen and save the document as an electronic file sending copies by email to PCC Treasurer (and Parish Administrator or Churchwarden etc to suit the arrangements in the parish.).
- For weddings a copy of the form should be sent to the wedding couple.
- For funerals a copy of the form should also be sent electronically to the funeral director.
The PCC should ensure that these forms are retained for at least six years. They should be completed with reference to the “total fee payable” column of the Table of Parochial Fees.
PCC charges for optional items
11. The Archbishops’ Council’s publication “A Guide to Church of England Parochial Fees” (see link at paragraph 1) explains when extra charges may or may not be made, for example charges for heating for the occasion of the wedding or funeral and the services of a verger. It also makes it clear that the amounts charged for these optional items can be decided by each PCC, provided that they are realistic and fair. The cost of these “extras” must be separately stated as optional and may not be charged unless specific agreement is obtained in advance from those receiving the ministry.
12. Where the PCC is acting as an agent for others, such as an organist, it is strongly recommended that payments are made to the PCC who would then pass the funds on to those concerned. This is both simpler for those responsible for making the payments and provides a clear audit trail.
13. In the case of funerals, reasonably incurred travelling expenses (in 2019 at 45p per mile) should be reclaimed by the officiating minister direct from the funeral director, who should be notified of the mileage prior to the funeral (our form provides space for this). However in many cases the undertaker will provide transport for the minister.
14. Travelling costs for pastoral visits associated with weddings and funerals should be paid by the PCC. This one of the costs that the PCC fees are intended to cover. These costs should not be passed on to those receiving this ministry.
PCC as the DBF’s Agent
15. The DBF has requested PCCs to act as its agent to receive fees and then remit them to the DBF. In view of the administration involved the DBF has agreed that PCCs in this diocese should be entitled to retain 5% of the fees that it receives on behalf of the DBF.
This amount can be deducted by PCCs from fees payable when remitting the amount due to the DBF.
16. The DBF has agreed to fund payments made on behalf of the incumbent to other ministers as set out in Paper A9.
In this respect, the PCC will be acting as an agent for the DBF and the incumbent and will make such payments as are due to these ministers out of the fees received from wedding couples or funeral directors. It is important that these payments (and expenses) are paid promptly and certainly within a month.
17. The DBF will also fund the PCC’s costs of arrangements at weddings and funerals for those with disabilities, such as professional signing services. Where such costs are incurred the PCC should provide a copy of the invoice with its records when making net remittances to the DBF. More information on using signing services is in Diocesan Compendium Paper B15.
18. When the PCC is acting as the DBF’s agent in this way it is important that (other than for the 5% retained) the DBF’s fees (and their remittance to the DBF) are not accounted for as the PCC’s income (and expenditure); the PCC is not at liberty to use funds held on behalf of the DBF for its own cash flow purposes.
19. In the event that the PCC does not wish to act as the DBF’s agent, the PCC Treasurer should contact the Assistant Diocesan Secretary (Finance) who will then make arrangements with the Incumbent / Priest in Charge / Vicar in a Team Ministry with regards to being advised as to when fees are due to the DBF.
Recording Receipts & Payments
20. The itemised forms for the wedding couple and funeral director deliberately do not distinguish between fees due to the PCC and the DBF; they should be completed with reference to the “total fee payable” column of the Table of Parochial Fees.
21. Those responsible for payment of the fees should be asked to do so in a single cheque to the PCC. Cash payments should be discouraged. It is in order for funeral directors to make payments on a calendar month basis provided there is an itemised statement clearly identifying each funeral to which it relates.
22. A form for recording receipts and analysing them into those due to the PCC and DBF is available either as an Excel spreadsheet or in a PDF version for printing. The form also provides for recording where payments are made to ministers conducting services.
This form should be used to accompany remittances to the DBF. It together with the itemised forms for each service should be kept for at least six years and need to be available, as an audit trail, to the PCC’s Independent Examiner (or Auditor) and the DBF’s officers and Auditor.
23. Fees due to the DBF (net of payments made and the 5% retained by the PCC for administration) should be remitted at least quarterly, or in those parishes where a relatively larger number of services takes place on a monthly basis.
The Diocesan Office will contact PCC Treasurers of those PCCs where a monthly return would be appropriate. PCCs should ensure that these returns are sent in within a month of each quarter-end even if a “nil” return is submitted.
24. The returns should be sent to the Finance Team, The Old Palace, Deansway, Worcester WR1 2JE, either with the PCC’s cheque or indicating how payment of the net amount due to the DBF is being made e.g. by BACS. Please do not include any bank details of any sort in emails.
25. The DBF assigns (i.e. donates) its fees to the relevant hospice when the relevant duties are carried out by a hospice chaplain in the course of their work for the hospice. Since 1st May 2019 this only applies to volunteer chaplains as parochial fees do not apply to matters which relate the duties of an employed hospice chaplain carried out in the course of that employment. This does not affect the PCC’s fee.
26. For the DBF’s records each hospice should send an annual return (i.e. for each calendar year) to confirm the amount the hospice has received because in law it counts a donation from the DBF.The hospice must ensure that PCC fees are paid promptly to the relevant PCC (see footnote) unless particular PCCs agree to assign their fees to the hospice.
27. Where, as a volunteer hospice chaplain, a Reader or non-stipendiary minister chooses to receive a payment in accordance with Paper A9 the amount of the DBF fee assigned to the hospice is reduced accordingly.
28. In the event that a PCC receives a DBF fee where the assignment to a hospice applies, the PCC should remit that fee (net of any payments made and the 5% retained by the PCC for administration) to the respective hospice and record that payment on the PCC’s return to the DBF.
29. The authority to waive parochial fees for a service conducted by volunteer hospice chaplain remains with the relevant incumbent or priest in charge (see paragraph 30 below).
Waiving of Parochial Fees
30. The Archbishops’ Council’s “A Guide to Church of England Parochial Fees” explains how the law provides for fees to be waived in particular cases and who has the authority to do so with regard to the fees due to the PCC and the DBF.
31. The guidance sets out that this should only be “in cases of clear financial hardship”. For fees to be waived in other circumstances such as simply that the fees effective at the time of the wedding will be higher than when a couple made their wedding arrangements would be a breach of the charity trustee obligations of a PCC and/or DBF in foregoing a payment due by law.
32. Where the DBF’s fees are waived the PCC’s return of fees to the DBF should record this on every occasion. Similarly, when the PCC waives its fees a record will need to be kept for the PCC’s own accounting purposes.
Fees paid by the Superintendent Registrar
33. The fee from the Superintendent Registrar for a certified copy of an entry in a marriage register book is payable to the Parochial Church Council. (Marriage Act 1949 section 57(1) and Registration of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Fees) Regulations 2016.)
“Where funerals are not held in church, which is the relevant PCC and DBF?” In respect of PCC fees for services at public cemeteries or crematoria, the 1986 Measure (as amended) sets out which PCC should receive the fee (extract from section 1(7), regarding which a) deals with services in churches and churchyards).
b) where the fee relates to a burial or funeral service which takes place otherwise than in a church or churchyard, the council of the parish on whose electoral roll the deceased was entered, provided that where the deceased was entered on the electoral roll of more than one parish, the fee shall be shared equally between each of the councils of those parishes,
(c) where the fee relates to a burial or funeral service which takes place otherwise than in a church or churchyard and the deceased was not entered on any electoral roll, the council of the parish where the deceased had his or her usual place of residence, and
(d) in any other case, the council of the parish where the service or other event to which the fee relates takes place;’.
In respect of DBF fees for services at public cemeteries or crematoria, the amended 1986 Measure sets out which DBF should receive the fee (extract from section 1(7)). ‘b) where the fee relates to a burial or funeral service which takes place otherwise than in a church or churchyard, the diocesan board of finance of the diocese within which the deceased was a parishioner, provided that, where the deceased was a parishioner in more than one diocese, the fee shall be shared equally between each of the diocesan boards of finance.'