Charity Commission Annual Return

There are new questions being asked by the Charity Commission when completing the annual return.

The additional questions are whether the charity is registered for Gift Aid and whether the charity owns or leases any land or buildings.  In answering the second question local Churches, Circuits and Districts will note that the Trustees of Methodist Church Purposes are the legal owners of the vast majority of Methodist property so generally the answer will be "no" to the second question.

However you should continue to include in the accounts property (including manses) for which your organisation has responsibility as managing trustees.  The reason for this is that the Charity Commission require that this property appears on a balance sheet and it is not possible for TMCP to be able to do this.  Also as the Circuit or District are the managing trustees for the property and incur income and expenditure from this property it makes sense that all this information appears within their accounts.   

A previously optional question asking the number of volunteers that a charity has is now mandatory.  The Charity Commission has confirmed that they only require a best estimate of the number of volunteers and that the charity trustees are not included in the estimated number.  In estimating the number of volunteers it is suggested that:-

A Local Church should exclude anyone who is a member of the Church Council unless a member of the Church Council volunteers for the local Church in another capacity e.g. the organist or Sunday school teacher.  Anyone who is an employee should also be excluded. 

A Circuit completing the annual return should also exclude anyone who is a member of the Circuit Meeting unless they volunteer for the Circuit in another capacity e.g. an unpaid administrator.  A Circuit only needs to include in their number of volunteers those people who volunteer for the Circuit, not all the people who assist at a local Church level.  This might include those people volunteering for a Circuit run project e.g. a food bank as well as anyone assisting with the running of the Circuit but not employees.

A District completing the annual return should also exclude anyone who is a member of the Synod as they will be a charity trustee unless they assist the District in another capacity as a volunteer.  The District should only include in their estimation people volunteering for the District or a project of the District e.g. volunteer District Property Secretary.

Louise Wilkins

Conference Officer for Legal and Constitutional Practice


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