MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
Between Luton and Leighton Area Meeting Trustees and Local Meetings
‘As members of the Religious Society of Friends we are all called to exercise stewardship over the Society’s resources……we are all called to participate in building a responsible and caring community.’
(Quaker Faith and Practice 15.01)
1. Purpose of the Memorandum and Principles
The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is as follows:
To clarify the responsibilities of Area Meeting Trustees and Local Meetings: in order to help Friends to work effectively together as a caring community on a variety of matters connected with the care of our meetings, including the use of our finances, our meeting houses and the employment of staff.
There are two principles which should help to guide us in our work together:
• Our shared responsibilities require openness and on-going dialogue with respect to all matters which are of mutual concern
• Local Meetings should take responsibility only as far as they are able and should ask for assistance and support from Trustees as and when they feel the need to do so
2. Link Trustee
Each Local Meeting has a ‘Link Trustee’ who (ideally would be a member of or regularly attend Premises/Finance Committee) and is normally a Friend appointed from their Meeting. One of the roles of the Link Trustee is to keep in touch with what is happening at the Local Meeting and in this way, assisting with communication between the Local Meeting and the Trustee group. This approach is very much in keeping with the principles as set out above.
3. The MOU in Context
This MOU brings together in one document current policies and practices within the Area Meeting and which can be found in: Luton and Leighton Area Meeting Right Ordering, the BYM Treasurers’ Handbook and Trustees’ Handbook and Section 14 in Quaker Faith and Practice.
This document is not intended to be exhaustive and mainly deals with common finance and premises activities and decision-making. Information about more complex or less common activities can be found in the source documents listed in Section 8.00.
4. Trustee Responsibilities
The Trustee group is formed by Friends from most Local Meetings. This enables a close working relationship between the Trustee group and Friends in Local Meetings. Whilst this MOU is set out on the basis of clear responsibilities for Trustees and Local Meeting Friends, it is hoped that the working relationship between Trustees and Local Meeting Friends, is in the spirit of Quaker Faith and Practice 15.02.
Trustees are responsible for:
(a) Resources: Ensuring that all Meeting Houses, other property, land and financial resources held in Trust on behalf of Britain Yearly Meeting are properly protected, maintained and managed, including:
• Overseeing the upkeep of the structure and fabric, the building services (electrical, heating, plumbing, and drainage systems and fixed appliances) – anything which is not considered to be routine maintenance. Also, external decoration, boundaries and car parks and any substantial work to trees in gardens and burial grounds.
• Providing advice and support to Friends in Local Meetings concerning financial and property matters as required
• Retaining and updating a database on all properties within the geographical boundaries of the Area Meeting
(b) Five Year Plan 2016-2020: Preparing and keeping under regular review the Five Year Plan for the upkeep and improvement of Meeting Houses, associated property and Burial Grounds.
(c) Consolidated Accounts: Preparing the consolidated Annual Accounts for the Area Meeting, incorporating the accounts from Local Meetings and Camp Committee, submitting these to the Charity Commission and Quaker Stewardship Committee
(d) Annual Report: Preparing and presenting to Area Meeting and submitting to the Charity Commission and Quaker Stewardship Committee the Area Meeting Annual Report, which includes reports on the work and activities of Local Meetings
(e) Health and Safety: Setting out the ‘Area Meeting Health and Safety Policy’ and ensuring the monitoring and implementation of the policy
(f) Reserves: Setting out a reserves policy to assist both local meetings and area meeting to calculate the reserves they need to retain on an annual basis
(g) Employees: (i) Policy and Procedures – Dealing with policy and procedures on all matters to do with Area Meeting employees, in close liaison with those Friends responsible for such matters in Local Meetings (ii) Contracts – the contract of employment is between the individual employee and the Area Meeting Trustees
(h) Insurance: Arrange insurance cover for all of the Area Meeting: buildings, public liability, employee liability. Deal with any queries or claims concerning the insurance cover.
(i) Safeguarding: Setting out the ‘Area Meeting Children and Adults with Care and Support Needs Safeguarding Policy’ and ensuring the monitoring and implementation of the policy
(j) Sharing: Keeping Friends in Local Meetings informed of Trustee activities by sharing the Trustee Meeting minutes with Clerks of Local Meetings and involving LM Friends in a number of Trustee meetings throughout the year
5. Local Meeting Responsibilities
Local Meetings are responsible for:
(a) Treasurer: Appointing a local treasurer or treasurer team as appropriate; along with a finance and premises committee with whom they will work.
(b) Bank Accounts: Setting out, and agreeing with the trustees, the bank accounts that may be required.
• All monies received should be banked to the accounts
• Normally appointing three or four Friends as signatories and deciding a transaction amount above which two signatures are required. This should normally be of value between £500 and £1,000. Trustees should be informed of any meeting double signature authorisation amount above £1000. The authorised persons signing a cheque or authorising an electronic transfer should be recorded on the voucher authorising the payment.
• No commitments should be entered into unless funds are available
(c) Insurance: Informing the AM treasurer of any incident that may lead to an insurance claim and assisting the AM treasurer in completing and submitting a claim form to our insurers.
(d) Financial Reserves: Ensuring that financial reserves are kept at an appropriate level: they should be sufficient to meet expenditure for six months of normal outgoings, without having recourse to borrowing, while also ensuring that funds are employed for the purposes for which they were given. More detailed guidance is provided in Right Ordering.
(e) Windfall income. If the local meeting receives any “windfall income”, for example a bequest, a local authority grant etc, it should consult with trustees before committing to spend this income.
(f) Associated Property: Where there is residential accommodation associated with the meeting house, choose residents and tenants for long-term leases, deciding the terms on which they occupy rooms or accommodation, in liaison with Trustees. The Local Meeting may also employ an agent to assist in this matter.
(g) Minor Works: The local meeting is responsible for arranging and meeting the costs of the following: furnishings, internal decoration, repairs costing up to £2500, routine maintenance of all appliances and services, cleaning the premises and for the upkeep of the garden/burial ground. In the event of any repairs costing more than £2500 the Clerk to Trustees should be consulted.
(h) Quotes for Work: For any work to be carried out within or outside the meeting house, Friends should normally obtain three quotes. Quotes for work which exceeds £2500 should be brought to a Trustee meeting for approval and minuting. If this is not possible for any reason, the quotes should be forwarded to the Clerk of Trustees who will consult with the Trustee group on the matter, between meetings.
(i) Building Proposals: Take the initiative in suggesting improvements or alterations to meeting houses and associated properties. Where any building/improvement works of a major nature are proposed, close consultation with and approval by the Trustees are necessary. The meeting should go out to tender/obtain quotes on the basis of a properly drawn up scheme. Implementation of any plans and proposals is the responsibility of the LM, working closely with Trustees. Major improvement to buildings costing more than £2,500 require approval by the Trustees.
(j) Contractors: Formalise arrangements in writing (eg by A Letter of Agreement, a briefing document) with contractors to provide services such as one-off design schemes; the construction of project proposals and ongoing gardening and cleaning. The Clerk to Trustees has templates for such documents which can be made available to LMs.
(k) Servicing: Ensure that the proper arrangements are made for servicing equipment such as that required for the fire safety system and gas boilers.
(l) Employees: (i) Finance – deal with salary and tax for wardens and caretakers, pension contribution payments for wardens and caretakers, in consultation with the AM Pay Roll Officer (ii) Employee Issues – should the Line Manager feel the need for help or advice concerning any employee matter, the Line Manager should contact the Clerk to Trustees (ii) Warden/Caretaker Appointments – In the event of the appointment of a warden or caretaker – work in close liaison with Trustee representatives, with the Contract of Employment being that agreed by the Trustees. The Appointment Panel must include a Trustee. Appoint a Line Manager for the Warden/Caretaker and establish a Warden: Practical Support Group
(m) Safeguarding: Implementing the procedures as set out in the ‘Area Meeting Children and Adults in Need of Care and Support Safeguarding Policy’ in close liaison with the Area Meeting’s Safeguarding Coordinators.
(n) Submissions to Trustees: Sending to the Clerk of Trustees annually information/reports as set out in section 7.00 below.
6. Professional Advice
It is recognised that there are times when Trustees and Friends in Local Meetings need to seek and pay for professional advice. It is important that Friends obtain the best advice and support when working on individual projects. Also, such advice and support reduces the burden on Friends. If professional advice is being sought by Local Meetings, Trustees should be approached to check if they have any guidance on the matter.
7. Submissions to Trustees (by email to the Clerk of Trustees)
Annual Report: A short summary text (or bullet points) of about 70-80 words by 1 March about significant matters in the life of the Local Meeting to be included in the Area Meeting Annual Report for the previous calendar year.
Annual Accounts: provide the standard accounts pro forma to the area meeting treasurer by no later than 31 March to enable the accounts of the local meeting to be consolidated with the accounts of the area meeting.
Inspection/Health and Safety: The completed Meeting House Premises and Health and Safety Inspection Form by 1 September. Alert Trustees on the form, when maintenance or remedial work is needed, preferably in time for inclusion in the next budget (December).
Health and Safety Risk Assessment (including Employees): The completed Risk Assessment Form by 1 September.
Warden/Caretaker Joint Review: The completed Joint Review form by 30 September.
Future Plans: Information about any proposals/projects for the following year by 30 September.
8. Further Information
Further information can be found in:
Luton and Leighton Area Meeting Right Ordering (AM website)
The BYM Treasurers’ Handbook
The Trustees’ Handbook; Quaker Faith and Practice Section 14
Quaker Stewardship Committee is responsible for the oversight of area meeting annual trustee reports and accounts. (http://www.quaker.org.uk/handbook-trustees) In addition, the Charity Commission advice and guidelines should be referred to as appropriate.