BUFDG Digest - 31st January 2024

31 January 2024      Matt Sisson, Projects and Membership Manager


The Scottish Government's proposed spending and tax plan for 2024/25, introduces a new 45% rate of income tax, as well as an increase to the top rate of tax to 48%. Review the details here.

The Welsh Government presented its draft Budget for 2024-2025 on 19 December 2023. The detail can be found here.

The date of the UK Spring Budget 2024 has been confirmed as 6 March 2024.


BUFDG is running an in-person training event for corporation tax on Wednesday 6 March, at Woburn House in London. It’s a one-day course that builds on the basic knowledge covered in our online training courses (Intro to Corporation Tax in HECorporation Tax - University NPP Trading Computations, and Corporation Tax: Managing Subsidiaries), and will cover not just how to do corporation tax, but how to manage corporation tax. From analysing new activities in your university, to preparing your university return in an efficient way, at the end of this course you should feel more confident in managing corporation tax risk, and reporting more accurately to HMRC. Click for more information and to book.

You can now book your FREE place at the online BUFDG Finance Festival on Monday 11th to Wednesday 13th March! An extravaganza of all things H E finance and procurement, with 28 sessions covering everything from overseas tax to campus sustainability, and from credit ratings to financial planning. It’s an all you can eat, free event for you and your team – we hope you will come along and tuck in, but booking is essential.

We’re holding an online Business Writing course on the 7 March. As knowledge workers, we’re part of a ‘decision factory’ that deals in information. We literally work with words – thinking, analysing, absorbing, reporting, advising. Yet too few people continue to develop their writing skills once they hit the working world. How confident are you about getting your message across? Not just hoping that people get to the end of your email or report. But knowing that your readers are clear what steps they need to take next. Because that’s what business writing is all about: helping others to make decisions or take action.

UNIAC is hosting an online session on the 14 March for senior university staff and non-executives, looking at the current challenges and opportunities facing audit and risk committees in the HE sector, and the broader regulatory environment. For more information and to book your place, click here.

One of BUFDG’s sister organisations, HESPA, is holding its in-person annual conference on 8-9 February in London (Wembley Hilton). Session topics include 'Working with “value” in universities', 'Elections 2024 – What might happen next?', and 'Tomorrow’s World - Responding and adapting to trends, patterns and projections about the stakeholders and communities we serve'. If you'd like to attend, you can find out more and book your place here.

On e-learning, the more advanced Import Duty and VAT Relief course is now available. BUFDG Pro members can access it here. Following feedback, we have split the course into 2 sections: Part 1 considers Returned Goods Relief, Outward and Inward Processing Relief; Part 2 considers Temporary Admissions and Sector Specific Reliefs, such as the importation of equipment for medical research.

Finally, we know that the accountancy bodies have changed their CPD rules recently, and to help our members meet their CPD requirements we are putting all our e-learning courses forward for CPD accreditation from the CPD certification service. 13 of our e-learning courses have been accredited so far and your completion certificates for any of these courses undertaken from now on will reflect this. You can see which courses have been accredited on our e-learning webpage, and more will be added soon.


Joni and Julia have been working with Vialto Partners and various funding bodies to create practical guidance on the compliance considerations relating to fellowships. 

Amanda is working to obtain guidance for members over whether/when the subsidiary audit exemption via parent company guarantee can be used by university subsidiaries, and if so, in what circumstances.

Joni, Karel and Matt are working with Cazenove on a report offering context and practical guidance on Net Zero investments for universities. There is an opportunity to join a virtual roundtable on Tuesday 6 February from 3.00 –4.00pm to discuss the key findings and share perspectives before the report is published. Cazenove will also be running a session on the findings of this report during their session at the FF (Tuesday afternoon).


The latest edition of UUK’s Facts and Figures report is out, this time covering 2021/22 data. It reports a total sector income of £44.1bn, educating just over 2.7million students, and awarding 870,000 qualifications. You can use the menu on the right-hand side to look at the data in more detail.

The IFS has produced an in-depth report on the financial challenges facing the next government. It touches on the HE sector in a few different ways, inlcuding dilemmas around international students and tuition fees. Similarly, the Reform think-tank (not the populist political party) has produced a report with Deloitte called the ‘State of the State’, which makes for interesting reading for the sector, particularly around future funding models, and the Scope 3 challenge of international students. Jonathan Portes writes in the Guardian on how the two issues are closely linked, while HEPI have an article praising the Browne review idea of a graded levy on overseas student fees.

And for those that like a bit of brave crystal-ball gazing, Prof. Tim Dunne of the University of Surrey takes a look at the future of the sector in an article on LinkedIn.

The next Director of Universities Scotland will be Claire McPherson, after Alastair Sim steps down at the end of March. She joins the organization following a range of roles in the Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council.

The transfer of responsibilities from HEFCW to the new Commission for Tertiary Education and Research (CTER) has been pushed back to the 1st August (it was initially planned on the 1st April). Here’s the announcement.

Finally, new research suggests that one of the benefits of going to University is that you’ll live longer.


The government has launched a new Carbon Calculator model, called the Mackay Carbon Calculator. After putting in details, users select a ‘level of ambition’ (four stages from ‘minimum’ to ‘maximum’ effort), and are then presented with what that means in terms of behaviour change and infrastructure investment. This is also a reminder of the sector’s own Carbon Calculator (available via the BUFDG website). The group are in the process of updating the FAQ following the first technical surgery with Energise on 22 Jan. This will be published (along with dates of future surgeries) by the end of February.

TEC are hosting one of their regular online Energy Market summaries on Thursday 8 February at 10am. They say “Wholesale prices continue to fall but are we out of the woods? Or might there be a sting in the tail of the Energy Price Crisis?” Here’s the link for more information and to register.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero has announced 12 projects that have secured a portion of the funding available through the Local Industrial Decarbonisation Plans competition (LIDP) competition. Eight of those projects include university partners. Additionally, 4 new Green Heat Network projects have been announced, and two include university partners.  

Finally, here’s a reminder of our list of Green / Net-Zero funding opportunities. We do our best to keep it up to date, so if you spot something that we’re not aware of, please do send a link to Joni.


The 2024 BUFDG Tax Conference will take place online, via MS Teams, from Tuesday, 11 to Thursday, 13 June. As ever, we will be hosting events across the tax spectrum and trusted advisers will be invited to speak on various relevant topics to the higher education sector. The cost of the event will be £150 inclusive of VAT. However, if you like to take advantage of an early bird discount whilst we arrange sessions, you can book your place for £120 (including VAT) until 31 March 2024.

BUFDG last instigated research on university tax teams and challenges in 2018, when 70 individual Higher Education Providers (HEPs) shared their valuable insights. This survey was refreshed for 2023/24, with 65 HEPs responding to questions on current tax resources, software in use, preferred advisers, partial exemption methodology, overseas tax aspects, HMRC contact and relationship, and biggest tax issues. We also carried out a tax salaries and resources survey in September 2023 and the results have now been combined, with the additional resource benchmarking content located in Section 10 of the report, which can be found here

Given HMRC’s new ‘expectations’ (summarised in a prior edition of TaxHE), we are pleased to confirm that Rebecca Seeley Harris, of Re:Legal Consulting Ltd and Caroline Jones, of BDO, will be returning on 21 March for a training session on all things IR35/ off-payroll/employment status. The 3-hour training session will take place online and you can book your place here.

HMRC has published new guidance and an application form for individuals going abroad and wanting to continue paying into their UK social security via voluntary NIC (following their mandatory abolition in the 2023 Autumn Statement).

If any of your subsidiaries make R&D claims, you might be interested in the latest guidance that HMRC has issued regarding when you need to notify that a claim is going to be made and agents. There are more details here. Also note that VWV are hosting a more general session on managing subsidiary companies during the Finance Festival (Wednesday morning).


Our Job of the Fortnight is for a Finance Business Partner at the Scottish Association of Marine Science, partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands. The successful candidate will “will support the provision of high-quality financial management information and provide professional finance advice to senior managers and budget holders within SAMS, manage the production of monthly financial statements for budget holders, contribute to the overall corporate reporting of the organisation’s financial position, and work with budget holders at a Senior and Executive level to resolve any concerns or difficulties with their financial performance”. The deadline for applications is Monday 12th February.

As usual, there are lots of other vacancies listed on the BUFDG jobs page.

Read more

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