Useful Information & Website Links

Reduced Software Costs for Charities

For churches who have a Charity Commission charity number, software can be purchased from tt-exchange Donated Technology for UK Charities.

They will carry out a check to confirm that you are a registered charity and have a registered person for reporting the annual reports and accounts. Although the Synod office has not benefitted from this offer, other churches have.

Website: tt-Exchange Donated Technology for UK Charities

Sharing Agreements

The Finance Officer is the responsible person in the office for dealing with Sharing Agreements. Fortunately, the Moderator also has experience of the complexities of Sharing Agreements as does the Synod Ecumenical officer.

It is important to recognise that a Sharing Agreement under the Sharing of Church Buildings Act 1969 is only one of the ways in which buildings can be shared. Other approaches may, in any given circumstance, be more appropriate.

Sharing Agreements do not create ‘unified’ churches. In some cases a Sharing Agreement may be seen simply as a necessary step to enable non-URC weddings to take place in an URC church. That may be all that is looked for. One the other hand proximity- rather than absence- can sometimes make the heart grow fonder. Opportunities for growing together in congregational life and witness will often present themselves. Churches who thought that their own life would continue as normal may discover that there is much more that can be shared besides a building.

If you wish to consider entering into a Sharing Agreement, please notify the Moderator in the first instance or alternatively the Finance Officer. Please recognise that the legal document will need to be drawn up by Cobbetts and this will incur a legal fee which will need to be paid by the Church concerned.

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Governance for faith based charities

The Charity Commission has published a new guide to governance for faith-based charities to help them establish strong trustee bodies and good practice. The guide, Faith in Good Governance, was launched to coincide with National Inter Faith Week (15-21 November 2009).

The publication is aimed at the trustees, staff and volunteers of those charities established with a religious purpose whose main focus is religious worship and related activities. It brings together into one document aspects of the legal and good practice framework which are most likely to be of relevance to faith-based charities. The guidance is aimed predominantly at smaller or newer charities whose main focus is operating a place of worship.

Website: Charity Commission

Charity Registration Process

Charity Registration Process

These guidance notes have been preapred by the URC Trust to assist local churches in complying with the requirements of the Charities Act 2006. They have been approved by the Charity Commission. We acknowledge the advice and assistane of our legal advisers, Towns Needham and the generosity of the Chuirch of England in allowing us to use some of the text and graphics from their guidance notes. where applicable.

For many years religious charities, though they have come under the jurisdiction of the Charity Commisison and have been subject to charity law, have been "excepted" from the need to register. Changes coming into effect as a result of the passing of the Charities Act 2006 mean that the assets of some local churches and other church organisations (such as Synods) will require to be registered with the Charity Commission in a process commencing on January 1 2009. These notes aim to answer your questions and guide you through this process, if indeed it applies to you.

Download: Local URC and Charity Registration Process

Church Relevant Updates

Ethical Investment Policy Statement

Mission Council Meeting in London Colney in March 2010 received a report on ethical investment principles for the use by the United Reformed Church. These principles are based on theological reflection on how to express mission responsibility through investment and developments in ethical investment policy and practice to reflect both positive and negative screening criteria based on social environmental, governance and ethical concerns. Assembly is asked to adopt these principles.

Download: Ethical Investment Policy Statement for more details

Pension Updates and Bulletins

A Change to Pensions Legislation 2015

Several years ago the government recognised that most people are not saving enough for retirement and, as a result may not be able to afford to live comfortably in their retirement on just the State Pension. As people are also living longer, there is increasing strain on the State benefits system, so private pension provision is becoming increasingly important.

To encourage workers to start building up retirement benefits, the Government introduced pension reforms through the Pensions Act 2008 that requires all employers to offer workplace pension schemes and, subject to certain criteria being met, enrol workers into their schemes. These reforms have become known as Auto-enrolment (Ae) and came into effect from October 2012 when the largest employers were required to comply.

Download: A Change to Pensions Legislation Document

Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund - The Budget 2015

The Chancellor regularly taunts the Opposition with the slogan that prudent Governments fix the roof while the sun is shining. And for churches he has proposed just that, announcing an additional £40 million for the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.  The original scheme, which had a very short time-scale for applications, was heavily over subscribed nevertheless with 1,900 applications.  The web-site for the fund is Listed Places of Worship - Roof Repair fund. Churches that applied during the first round, but failed to get funding will, I understand, need to re-apply.

Although not mentioned in the Budget, can I remind Listed Churches that the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme only has guaranteed funding until March 2016 and I would recommend that Churches make certain that all applications are submitted well before this date.  The Scheme's web-site is Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme. The Scheme makes grants equivalent to the VAT paid by Listed Churches in carrying out repairs, maintenance and alteration works.

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  Synod Listed Buildings Advisory Committee

Extended Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme

Late September Update: Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme 

The Government has announced changes to the scope and operation of the Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme. This is the scheme which allows listed places of worship to reclaim VAT (with certain restrictions) paid for alterations and repairs. The changes apply from 1 October 2013.

Website: Historic Religious Buildings Alliance for Further Details Press Release: Detail of Extended Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme Announced LNB News 14/08/2012 96  Published Date 14 August 2012 - Issue Date 14 August 2012  Issuing Department - Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Jurisdiction - England; Northern Ireland; Scotland; Wales News

Following the Budget 2012 announcement that the zero rate of VAT for approved alterations to listed buildings would be withdrawn from 1 October 2012, the government also announced that it would be extending the Listed Places of Worship (LPW) Grant Scheme to also cover approved alterations listed places of worship. Additional funding of up to £30m a year (from 2012/13) has been allocated to the scheme for the duration of this Parliament.

Summary - The Scheme

  • The LPW Grant Scheme currently provides grants towards VAT paid on repairs and maintenance to listed places of worship
  • Following consultation with faith and heritage organisations, the scheme will remain largely the same to ensure it is as easy as possible to use. The extended scheme will incorporate repairs, maintenance and approved alterations.
  • Some current restrictions will be lifted, including those on repairs to kitchens and toilets, and there will be additions, including the installation of security and forensic systems to prevent crime.
  • To improve cash flow for places of worship, the scheme will also return to a system of monthly payments.
  • The extended scheme will become operational on 1 October 2012 to coincide with the VAT changes.
  • The current criteria and rules for the LPW Grant Scheme will continue to apply until then.

Next steps
Detailed guidance and new applications forms will be available on the LPW scheme website September 2012

Small Charitable Donations Act (Amendment) Order 2015

The House of Commons has approved the Draft Small Charitable Donations Act (Amendment) Order 2015, which will increase in the limit for claims under the Gift Aid Small Donations scheme from £5,000 to £8,000 per charity per year. In the first year of the Scheme, 2013-14, 8,100 charities claimed a total of £6 million: in 2014-15, 19,300 charities claimed a total of £21 million. The draft Order is not subject to proceedings in the House of Lords. See CLAS Circulation 9th December 2015 below.  It will come into force on 6 April 2016.

Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme  News from the Budget March 2015

The Chancellor announced that secondary legislation will be introduced to increase the maximum annual donation amount which can be claimed through the (rather complicated) Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme to £8,000, allowing charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs to claim Gift Aid style top-up payments of up to £2,000 a year.  Although I understand that the change will not take until April 2016.  As of December 2014 only £23m had been claimed: well below the Government's original projection of £50m.  I understand that one of the drivers behind the increase in the amount that can be claimed is to raise awareness of the scheme's existence.

Gift Aid Declarations

Partly as a result of the budget H. M. Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have made a series of important announcements which need to be acted upon by all Gift Aid administrators. The wording of the Gift Aid declaration has been changed. In particular it clarifies the section confirming that the donor has paid sufficient tax. HMRC want all new declarations to adopt this wording, but recognise that for example some organisations have stocks of pre-printed declarations so will accept these until 31st December 2012. For more information go to downloads.

Download: CLAS Circular 9th December 2015
Download: Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS)
Download: On-line Charities Guidance Notes The Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme
Download: Gift Aid: Claiming Using Form ChR1
Download: Gift Aid Declarations

Congregational & General Charitable Trust

congregatinal--general-truPreviously part of the Congregational and General Insurance Company, the Trust became independent of the Company in 2016. To reflect our new status we have launched a new website see link below.        

We are an independent grant-making charity. Our aim is to support churches, particularly those of the United Reformed and Congregational denominations, in the provision and repair of suitable buildings.  Please encourage churches who are engaged in building work to apply to the Trust for help.  Grant applications are now considered on a quarterly basis and full details of how to apply are on our website.

Correspondence should be Emailed to:Trish Thorpe Trust AdministratorThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or send to:
Trust Administrator Congregational & General Charitable Trust, PO Box 1111, LINCOLN, LN5 0WJ

Website:  Congregational & General Charitable Trust  

HMRC Six-Year Rule

The HMRC has announced that during a recent review an error has been identified in the guidance on keeping records. In the guidance it stated that the four-year time limit for claiming on donations also applied to the retention of keeping records. However this is incorrect and all records need to be kept for at least six years. On their website they have issued an apology for this error and acknowledge that Charities may have already destroyed records over four-years old. If this applies to your charity, then there is no reason to worry. The HMRC has stated that they will not penalise any charities that have destroyed records based on this guidance, if they do not have the full six years' worth of records, when asked to see them. From this point onwards any records that have not been destroyed for between four and six years, need to be retained for the full six-year retention period. You can view this information directly from the HMRC's.

Elders as Trustees




The registration of local Churches as Charities

Traditionally Churches have always been regarded as “charities” albeit that they have been excepted from the need to register with the Charity Commission. This position has now changed as a result of the Charities Act 2006. The “excepted charity” status of Churches is to be progressively withdrawn so that each local Church in England and Wales will eventually need to register with the Charity Commission. In view of the large number of local “Churchesinvolved the Charity Commission has started the registration process with local Churches who have an annual income in excess of £100,000. The requirement is for the charitable assets of the local Church to be registered with the Charity Commission as the Charity "and this should have occurred by the 1st October 2009. Churches whose income first exceeds £100,000 in later years must register at that time.

Download: Elders as Trustees Information Document

Mission Tools

walking -the-way-module

Vision Initiatives

Find out more about:  Walking the Way Vision4Life Vision2020 and Fresh Expressions

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Safeguarding Children and Adults at Risk. We work to the United Reformed Good Practice Policy and Procedures 

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The Purpose and Mission of the Synod; the Synod Meeting; our Area Partnerships; each of our Committees and the calendar of meeting dates.

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Who's Who?

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Find out who's who on the Synod Office Team.  If you are unsure who to get in touch with, use the Contact Us 

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