24th May 2016

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Integrated Reporting <IR> assessment framework Matt Sisson

A few weeks ago we briefly mentioned a new project we were starting on Integrated Reporting - denoted <IR> - a framework for telling the story of an organisation through its reports in a relevant, engaging, and effective way.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on the first phase of the project - devising a set of abridged <IR> metrics that fit the HE sector, and then assessing the annual reporting from volunteer HEIs against this framework. The chosen institutions were representative of the breadth of the sector, and we’ve been drawing out what they have done well and where there is room for improvement, as well as highlighting how reporting could improve.

We will be able to share what we’ve learnt with the sector in a report by the end of June. In the meantime, we’ve made the first draft of the abridged <IR> assessment framework available for download from the website, for those other institutions that are interested in taking a look. We’ll be updating this a little over the next month or two, but hopefully it gives readers and understanding of what a university <IR> should include.

We’ll be keeping you up to date on how the project progresses. If you’d like to find out more about <IR>, the website is here.

May's Treasury Management newsletter Matt Sisson

This month’s Treasury Management newsletter has a card acquiring focus. Tim writes:

“Our headline article comes from Matt Ball of University of Leicester, whom many of you will know as chair of the WPM University PCI DSS SIG - his article is entitled Card numbers, PCI and the HE Sector. My own article covers Card Scheme Website Requirements, which has come into focus in a couple of tenders I've managed recently. There is also Stop Press news, which advises that the 50p interchange fee cap for domestic VISA debit transactions is to be removed in September - bad news for the sector. I will be reporting fully on this next month. As you'd expect, we also have a couple of EU Referendum related articles.”

Read it in full here.

Do you have an NHS contract? Do your counter-fraud arrangements conform? Matt Sisson

Since the launch of the extensive Counter-Fraud Toolkit at the end of February, we’ve added a number of different documents to the collection. The most recent was the note on Ransoms in HEIs, written by Keith Read. HE institutions and local authorities have recently been hit by ransomware attacks, and universities are under increasing pressure to prevent and mitigate the risks of cyber-crime. The note can be downloaded in either a short form or a more detailed resource.

We’ve now added to the Toolkit further with an introduction to Counter-Fraud in the NHS – relevant for universities with Teaching hospitals and other NHS commissioning contracts who will be expected to conform to the standards of NHS counter-fraud requirements. The document has been kindly produced by 360 Assurance, who also delivered a useful presentation on this issue at the counter-fraud conference. 

Update on the apprenticeship levy Matt Sisson

There has been an interesting discussion through May on the Tax discussion boards on the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy. Due to the ad-hoc communication from the government about the introduction of the levy, different universities and members have come to the topic at different times.

We’ve been following it for a little while, including reporting on the recent consultation (now closed) that proposed to establish apprenticeship standards for three roles within HE – roughly a lecturer stream, an administration stream, and a research officer/management stream – with apprenticeships taken for a year or more.

Karel has learned that there is a steering group to implement Higher level accountancy apprenticeships involving most of the institutes. It is also worth noting that if your university becomes an accredited provider of apprenticeship training, then you can use the funds to provide your own in-house training for your apprentices.

The proposed rules is explained in the guidance linked to from here, in the section towards the end called 'Employers wishing to become training providers'. There is currently no further detail on how universities might do this in practice - it states later on that 'more information on who can provide apprenticeship training and how you can set up your organisation to deliver apprenticeship training' will be published in June. We’ll keep you posted as more comes to light.

Are you a "yes, yes, yes!" person? Karel Thomas

Unless you've been on a desert island for the past couple of years, you'll know that accounting terms are changing. This means that many existing banking covenants that use out-dated terminology will no longer work with the new SORP. Whatever your covenants are, it’s time to check they are up-to-date and still relevant. Funding Councils and BUFDG have been discussing this with the banks and the message is that banking and borrowing terms need not change for the worse.

Banks are working on the basis of mutual consent to any changes and agreement of definitions and levels that aim for no impact on commercial terms. What's more, the banks are not aiming to impose the same covenants on everyone in a misguided attempt to simplify everything. If you don’t review your covenants in time, there are provisions in most borrowing agreements to accommodate accounting changes, but lenders want to engage borrowers to find new mutually agreeable financial covenant suites. With the scurry to prepare your financial systems for the new SORP, reviewing bank covenants may not be at the top of the list, but it is a job to be done. If you are a Barclays customer, you will have seen a piece that Richard Robinson wrote for his account managers and clients, but click here for an abridged version and to see if you are a "yes, yes, yes" person.

Modern Slavery Act Training, new date added Emma Keenan

Due to demand, we will be running another Modern Slavery act training event in London on 22nd September. 

To find out more information or book tickets please click here.  

Just a few tickets remaining for the Tax Conference Matt Sisson

There are still a small number of tickets available for this year’s BUFDG tax conference, to be held in Nottingham on 21st and 22nd June. As well as providing an excellent networking opportunity with tax and payroll colleagues from universities across the UK, the conference will cover a raft of day-to-day tax and payroll issues including:

  • how to deal with stipends, fellowships, honorariums, maintenance grants, scholarships etc,
  • how to approach property transactions in a logical manner,
  • tax risk registers,
  • research lifecycles,
  • VAT reliefs for medical/veterinary purchases,
  • engaging with business,
  • tax issues in China and India,
  • an update from HMRC’s universities team and…..

…..well, for more information on what we’ll be covering at the conference go to the Eventbrite booking page and see what’s on offer.

The conference is a two day event, but there are tickets available for one or both days, giving you flexibility over how to attend.

If you’d like any further information about the conference, please get in touch with Gill or Amanda.

Two consultations from the charities regulators Matt Sisson

The Charity Commission, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, and the Officer of the Scottish Charity Regulator have issued a joint consultation on reporting matters of material significance to a UK charity regulator. The three regulators request comment on an updated list of material matters that should be reported to the regulators by auditors and independent examiners. The updates have been informed by developing themes and regulatory experience since the original list was published. The key questions are:

  • whether the matters to be reported to the charity regulators are the correct ones
  • whether the descriptions of the matters are clear and helpful
  • whether other matters should be included, or removed.

The consultation will inform the final list of matters to be reported by auditors and independent examiners to a UK charity regulator, and can be found on the gov.uk website. It closes on Sunday 11 September 2016.

In addition, The Charity Commission and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator have issued a joint consultation to identify changes needed to the Statement of Recommended Practice: Accounting Reporting by Charities (the Charities SORP [FRS102]). The intention is to make improvements based on the first year’s use of Charities SORP (FRS102). The regulators are seeking views on five specific areas for potential development:

  • Structure, format and accessibility
  • Implementation issues that require improvements
  • SORP Committee members’ suggestion for changes
  • Charity regulator themes for making changes
  • Consultation respondents’ suggestions for items to remove, change or add to improve the SORP.

HEIs that are registered and exempt charities are required to follow the FE/HE SORP, and so the Charities SORP is not applicable to their own financial statements. However, this consultation may be of interest to HEIs, as the student unions and any other associated charities that are registered with the Charity Commission may need to apply the Charities SORP (FRS102) and, if so, will be impacted by any future changes.

The press release and link to the SORP micro-site and consultation document can be found on the gov.uk website. The consultation closes on Sunday 11 December 2016.

If you have any comments or questions about either consultation, email charityreg@hefce.ac.uk.

BUFDG is recruiting... Dominic Fryer

We are looking for…

A full time Learning and Development Manager, based at our offices in Loughborough. They will work closely with the Executive Director and Operations Manager to deliver a series of learning and development projects for BUFDG members, following direction and an agreed strategy. The post-holder reports to the Operations Manager and has no staff management responsibilities.

You need to be…

  • people person who is also a great communicator and someone who is keen to build and develop a network.
  • Someone with ideas but also someone with initiative who can be resourceful in implementing these ideas.
  • Committed to learning and development. You don’t need to have ‘done it all’, but we want you to be our L&D evangelist. You will also need to understand staff/member engagement and how learning benefits not just the individual but also their employers.
  • A great team player who is happy working in a small team and willing to share ideas. But you will also need to be a self-starter to get the job done.

To find out more, visit www.bufdg.ac.uk/ldmanager.

ESOS - Official Update Emma Keenan

Following on from our news article last year confirming that Universities do not need to comply with ESOS, the Environment Agency has now updated their official guidance confirming as such.  Sections 1.1 and 1.2 of the guidance have been amended and confirm:

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)

Public bodies are excluded from the scope of ESOS.  However public body status in the HEI sector does not universally apply.  This reflects different funding levels from public and private sources.  ESOS has been implemented on the basis that it applies to HEIs that self-declare as private sector and are sufficiently large to trigger ESOS qualification

Additionally it confirms (1.2) :

You are not required to participate in ESOS if:

  • your organisation is defined as a public body (contracting authority) in:
    •  Regulation 3 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the first compliance period, replaced by Regulation 2(1) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 for the second and subsequent compliance periods; likewise
    • Regulation 3 of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2012 in Scotland for the first compliance period, replaced by Regulation 2(1) of the Public Contracts (Scotland) Regulations 2015 for the second and subsequent compliance periods.               

Should you have any questions or need any support around this please do not hesitate to get in touch, we are aware of at least one national agency who is continuing to push Universities to respond despite the above.


Job of the Week Matt Sisson

Our Job of the Week is for a Costing and Pricing Accountant at the University of Roehampton. The post holder "will provide a high standard of professional, finance management services for costing and pricing, reporting to the Management Accountant (Academic Departments). You will ensure the effective management of research project accounts and have overall responsibility for the timely recovery of all research grants and contract expenditure.  You will also maintain the appropriate financial controls relating to the management and stewardship of externally funded grants and contracts from all sources including the European Commission". The deadline for applications is the 30th May. As usual, there are lots of other vacancies listed via the BUFDG website


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