Charity registration

Methodist churches, circuits and districts have responded well to the requirements of The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and The Charities Act 2011 for England & Wales.

All Methodist charities in Scotland and Shetland are now registered with the Office of the Scottish Regulator (OSCR). 

In England and Wales all Methodist churches, circuits and districts with a gross income of over £100,000 per annum need to register with the Charity Commission. The Charities Act definition of 'gross income,' can be found on page 6 of CC15d -Charity reporting and accounting: the essentials.

Methodist charities with a gross income under £100,000 per annum continue to be excepted from registration.  This exception is provided by the Statutory Instrument 2014 No. 242.

Sometimes excepted charities experience difficulty with applying for grant funding or opening bank accounts (among other things) because they do not have a charity number.  If this is a problem for your Local Church, the Conference Office can provide a simple letter, explaining that excepted charities with a gross income of less than £100,000 cannot currently register voluntarily with the Charity Commission.

Please email lcp@methodistchurch.org.uk to make the request

Update on Registration - 28.10.2020

The Office of Civil Society has informed us that an announcement will be made in the first half of November 2020 regarding the Government’s intentions to extend the Charities (Exception from Registration) Regulations 1996 beyond the current expiry date of 31 March 2021. The Conference Office is monitoring the situation and will update the Connexion when the announcement is made. At present, we anticipate that another extension will be granted, meaning that Methodist charities with an annual gross income below £100,000 will continue to be excepted from registration. We are also in discussions with the Charity Commission about the possibility of enabling voluntary registration, but currently there is no indication that this will be implemented.

Update on Registration - 17.07.20

Trustees may be aware that this exception is due to come to an end on 31st March 2021, unless the Regulations are extended, as was the case with the Charities (Exception from Registration) Regulations 1996  and the Charities (Exception from Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2012.

In April 2020, when asked by the Chair of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee how the Commission was helping religious charities prepare for an end to the exception, its Chair answered as follows:

'We are conscious that 31 March 2021, the date on which the excepting regulations are currently due to expire, is drawing closer. We are in discussion with the Office for Civil Society to explore an extension to this and further options to help make the situation more manageable both for charities and the Commission.

When the measures do come into force, we will agree a phased approach, something that we would like to be able to discuss with church denominational bodies.'

Source: Question 15, page 9. 

The Conference Office is monitoring the situation and will inform the Connexion when the Commission has confirmed whether the Regulations will be extended. If not, our existing Charity registration guidance will be updated to assist trustees with the process. Please be aware that trustees of registered and excepted charities alike are obliged to comply with charity law.

Other Jurisdictions

In the Isle of Man religious charities are currently exempt from registration.

There is no Charity Commission in Jersey and therefore no requirement for Methodist bodies in Jersey to register.

In Guernsey, the Methodist Church - Bailiwick of Guernsey Circuit has registered.  All local Methodist churches in Guernsey will need to register with the Registrar of Non Profit Organisations if their gross income is £5,000 or over per annum or they have gross assets and funds of £10,000 or over.

Under Gibraltar's charity law any building that is exclusively used as a place of meeting for religious purposes is exempt from the need to register.  Legal advice should be obtained by any Methodist body in Gibraltar who are unsure whether or not they should be registered with the Charity Commissioner for Gibraltar.

The Methodist Church in Great Britain

Whilst it is recognised that the Connexion is comprised of over 6000 separate charities and is not a single entity, a separate registration was completed in the name of the Methodist Church in Great Britain with the Conference as the trustee body.

The registration number for the Methodist Church in Great Britain applies only to the connexional charity and the main connexionally-held funds - local churches, circuits and districts must not use this number

If your local Church or Circuit continues to be excepted from registration and are asked for a charity number, you will need to explain that you are excepted from registration under Statutory Instrument 2014 No. 242.

Most Local Churches use the Methodist Church's gift aid department to administer gift aid claims and therefore do not have an HMRC number themselves. Please call 020 7486 5502 and ask for the gift aid department.

However, if HMRC has formally recognised your Local Church or Circuit, you should have a charity tax reference number and this is often sufficient evidence of charitable status. This tax reference number will appear on any correspondence you have received from HMRC. If you are unable to locate your charity tax reference number, you can contact HMRC's dedicated charities helpline on 0300 123 1073. In order to become recognised by HMRC, you will need to access the gov.uk website and type in 'charity recognition' in the search box, followed by clicking the link 'Get recognition from HMRC for your charity' and following the process from there. The HMRC recognition process takes between 6 and 8 weeks.

If your Local Church or Circuit changes its name, the managing trustees should notify HMRC as soon as possible using form ChV1. It is good practice to include the minutes of the meeting of the managing trustees at which the name change was adopted. If the managing trustees change or if the bank account details change, HMRC should be notified as soon as possible again using form ChV1.

Please note that all Methodist churches, circuits and districts are charities whether or not you are registered with the Charity Commission.

"The Charities (Exception from Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 extended the exception for religious charities in England and Wales with an income under £100,000 per annum until 31 March 2021."

Any Methodist church or circuit who reaches the threshold of £100,000 per annum must register with the Charity Commission as per the guidance documents below. It is recommended that Methodist trustees follow this guidance.

Guidance Part 1 (pdf)
Guidance Part 2 (pdf)

Please note

Each managing trustee will need to give details of name, address, date of birth and any previous names e.g. maiden name for the registration and sign a trustee declaration form, see below. The signed trustee declaration forms must be uploaded as part of the registration process.  Even after registration is completed all new trustees must sign a trustee declaration form and it must be kept with the charity's records, there is no need to send forms for new trustees to the Charity Commission.  Only names of trustees will be given on the Charity Commission website information page for your charity, no other personal details will be available to members of the public.

Trustee declaration and eligibility form (pdf) - Trustees may sign these forms electronically using suitable software. 

This form should NOT be used if you are applying to register your Church as a charity with the Commission for the first time. For these purposes, the Charity Commission will only accept its own Trustee Eligibility Declaration form

All new trustees must read the Charity Commission's The Essential Trustee and Safeguarding Guidance prior to signing the trustee declaration form.   

HMRC 'Fit and Proper Person' test

The 'Fit and Proper Person' test applies to 'managers' i.e. those trustees and senior employees having general control and management over the running of the charity or the application of its assets (this includes the claiming of tax reliefs and Gift Aid).  

If you are a 'manager' of a charity you should read this helpsheet and, if appropriate, sign a declaration. 

Further information

Please contact Helen Byrne on 020 7467 5268 for more information, or email lcp@methodistchurch.org.uk 


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