Record Keeping: finance

As PCC Treasurer, you will be responsible for ensuring that the parish maintains appropriate records of its financial transactions. The main types of records that will need to be maintained are:

The cash book(s)

This contains the record of every item received by the PCC or paid on its behalf. If several items of cash are received on one day, for example the different collections on any given Sunday, these would be recorded individually as “Cash received”, with a corresponding entry for the total sum paid-in, as “Cash to bank”. Most stationers shops supply various designs of cash books, such as the Guildhall or Collins versions, and computer programs are also available.
You can buy cash books at discounted rate through the Parish Buying Service. Once registered with Parish Buying, your church can benefit from free next day delivery on office supplies (no minimum order).

Collections records

These can be cross-checked against the subsequent banking entries. Weekly collections and income from envelopes should be checked as they are counted, by at least two people. Their names and signatures should be on each record.


Payments not made by cheque should be exceptional. All payments should be supported by appropriate documentation e.g. invoices, bills, expenses claims. Where there is no supporting document, a “receipt” should be obtained.

Petty cash

Payments in cash should be kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to make such payments, they should never be made from cash received as collections, but from a properly set-up and documented petty cash float. A cheque, drawn for “Cash” can be used to provide a banking entry to support the initial credit balance in a Petty Cash book. All payments from petty cash should have a matching receipt, and the total of such payments, when added to the remaining cash in hand, should balance against the initial cash cheque withdrawal from the bank.

Gift Aid

Even if the PCC has a separate Gift Aid Secretary who keeps records of individuals and the amounts against which tax can be reclaimed, the Treasurer will still need to keep note of who has paid what and when, either by means of an envelope giving scheme, or by banker’s order direct to the church account. This will need to be shown in the cash book, and will support the requirements of the Inland Revenue to justify repayment of income tax paid by the donor.

Bank account(s)

Some Banks now offer Treasurer’s accounts which provide cheque book facilities. The Treasurer needs to keep all bank statements to support the PCC accounts, for a period of seven years. In view of the need to comply with the Charity Commission’s requirements and identify separately the different types of funds, as explained below, it may be useful to operate more than one account, but in no case should there be more than one cheque book in use at any one time for each separate account.

Bank signatories

Each cheque should require a minimum of two signatures, usually any two from four including members of the PCC, the parish priest, churchwardens and Treasurer. The Treasurer needs to keep a record of who are the authorised signatories, and ensure that the bank mandate is authorised by the PCC and updated regularly.

Investment account(s)

In order to maximise the interest earned by the PCC’s funds, money that is not needed on an instant access basis should be deposited in one or more deposit accounts. These should pay interest gross, as the PCC has no liability for tax in this respect. CCLA are one provider of such funds, although there is no requirement for PCCs to use their services.  Annual statements are provided, showing interest accrued and capital movements.

Return of Parish Finance

This is an annual form which helps the Church of England monitor its financial situation. It is sent to each Treasurer prior to the APCM, and one copy of it is retained by the parish, the others returned to the Diocese. In many dioceses, data can now be entered online.

Annual Financial Statements

Records should be held for at least six years.

Charity Commission annual return

The Charity Commission has updated their list of questions in the annual return.

Correspondence file

You may find the New Treasurers Guide (pdf) produced by ACAT a helpful download.