Sir, — Members of the Association of Charity Independent Examiners (ACIE)
with church connections alerted me to your report “PCC accounts may be given
closer scrutiny” (
News, 3 December). There was concern that the report might be a little
alarmist, as suggested by David Knox in his letter (10 December). David is
treasurer of ACIE, which offers support, information and training in the area
of independent examination (see
Independent examination is currently applicable to charities in England and
Wales with annual income and expenditure of more than £10,000 and less than
£250,000. This upper threshold will increase to £500,000 (but measuring income
only), should the Charities Bill become law. It will pull back to £100,000,
should a £2.8-million assets threshold be exceeded by the charity, as mentioned
in your report. (Currently no asset threshold is applied.) These are in effect
minimal changes to the current situation to which PCCs are legally working.
If PCCs think they are currently not compliant, they can gain advice and
support in meeting the required standards, for both the present and future, by
appointing a competent independent examiner.
As yet, it is not at all clear when — or if — the Bill will come before
Parliament; so current rules apply for the near future. Rather than panic at
the possibility of a Charity Commission visitation as a result of the
implementation of potential new rules, churches should ensure that their
current accounting practice would stand up to scrutiny by any interested party.
The Charity Commission starts with annual reports
and accounts, which is also the territory of independent examination.
Director, Association of Charity Independent Examiners
Bentley Resource Centre
High Street, Bentley
Doncaster DN5 0AA