Vestry Responsibilities: Governance, Accounting and Charity Matters

Charity and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005:  Guidance for Vestries
Guidance providing a general description of the main matters which vestry members must be aware of under the Charities Act.

Declaration by Vestry Members
Vestry members must be eligible to act as charity trustees.  An explanatory note and a declaration of eligibility are available.

HMRC – Fit and Proper Person Test
Vestry members must  be regarded as ‘fit and proper persons’ for the purposes of HM Revenue & Customs.  An explanatory note and a declaration of ‘fit and proper personhood’ is available.

Vestry Code of Conduct
The Provincial Personnel Committee has produced a template for vestries to consider and adopt (subject to any changes agreed locally). The intention is that the template should be a useful basis for a discussion within vestry, particularly when new members join the vestry after election at the congregational annual meeting, about how vestry members conduct themselves.

Model Constitutions
Model constitutions are available for download.  These comprise congregational constitutions for a single incumbency and for a joint incumbency and there is also a memorandum for linked charges.

Responsibilities of the Vestry
Guidance setting out the general expectations of the responsibilities of the Vestry.

Responsibilities of the Vestry Secretary
Guidance setting out the general expectations of the responsibility of the Vestry Secretary.

Responsibilities of the Vestry Treasurer
Guidance setting out the general expectations of the responsibility of the Vestry Treasurer.

Responsibilities of the Paying Officer
Guidance setting out the general expectations of the responsibility of the Paying Officer.

Accounts – guidance and samples
Guidance and sample accounts originally issued in 2007 have been updated to reflect a number of minor amendments made to the Regulations in 2010.

Completion of the OSCR Annual Return and Supplementary Monitoring Return
Guidance regarding the completion of the returns OSCR requires each year.

Independent Examination
All accounts should be subject to external scrutiny. The aim of such external scrutiny is to give readers a degree of confidence in the words and figures presented in the accounts and to confirm that they have been prepared in accordance with the appropriate regulations and accounting guidance.  For smaller charities this is known as Independent Examination.  Guidance notes and checklists are provided to assist Trustees and Independent Examiners.

Risk Management
An advice note prepared by solicitors Shepherd and Wedderburn on risk management for congregations is provided.

While many congregations may already have their own style of risk register, a sample register is available here as a tool to assist congregations in considering, documenting and addressing the main risks to which they may be subject. It is available in both pdf and Word format.

Useful links
OSCR Website
Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005