Key changes to parochial fees system

On 19 June 2012 Parliament has approved the  Parochial Fees and Scheduled Matters Amending Order 2012 for parochial fees for 2013 and 2014. This has lead to a number of key changes in how the parochial fees system works.

Under the old system clergy had the right to retain the clergy portion of the fees (and have an equivalent amount deducted from their stipend). This has now changed. All Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) fees (except for a few freehold incumbents with written permission from the Bishop) are to be paid directly to the diocese. Any stipendiary clergy not receiving fees will therefore receive the full stipend from the diocese. Non stipendiary and retired clergy will no longer be able to waive fees, as the fee is due to the diocese not the clergy directly.

Retired clergy who are no longer licensed but have Permission to Officiate and authorisation from the Incumbent or Priest in Charge (or Area Dean/Archdeacon if this is not possible) to take the service, should be paid the 2/3 of the DBF fee that they are entitled to directly by PCCs to avoid them having to wait for the diocese to reimburse them. The remaining 1/3 fee is still to be sent to the DBF.

The fees have been raised, but now need to be seen as inclusive of all essential items which includes administration, entries into registers, opening up, lighting and also heating that would be on anyway. The only extras that can be charged by parishes are for items that are truly optional – such as organist, verger or cleaners where the pcc is collecting payments to pass onto those who offer the service, extra heating, printing etc.

Waiving fees: The decision to waive the PCC fee can only be taken by the incumbent/Priest in Charge after consulting with the churchwardens, and must be done on a case by case basis. The DBF fees can only be waived by the Archdeacon, again on a case by case basis (except for funerals for under 16s where all fees are waived automatically).

It is very important that all clergy expenses are paid in full, separately from the fees and they are paid directly to the clergy involved. There should be no element in the fees to cover this. In the case of funerals, the clergy mileage expenses need to be agreed by the clergy in advance of the funeral with the funeral director. This is to enable the funeral director to add this cost to the bill for the family before the service takes place. There is no mechanism for the funeral director to claim expenses from the family after the funeral.

There are various useful diocesan documents * 2013 fees summary * Full breakdown of implications of the fee changes * Form A is optional and can be used as an invoice or receipt for fees. If used it should be used in conjunction with Forms B and C * Form B for detailed fees return, and the Form C which is the summary fees return – these two forms need to be sent monthly/quarterly (depending on how much money is involved) to the diocese along with a cheque for the DBF portion of the fees * Summary of fees due to retired clergy * Form to confirm who the fees treasurer is for the parish.

This summary of the current situation is for general information only.  Incumbents/Priests in Charge/PCCs and Treasurers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the new rules and make any necessary adjustments to appropriate PCC policies.