20th July 2016
What's your Brexit team formation?
With the HE Bill now a bit nearer to becoming law, maybe some MPs read two Vice-Chancellors’ thoughts on the Bill. One of the VCs, Edward Peck, of Nottingham Trent University, wrote in the THE, “In an era of huge uncertainty about the future of our country, we cannot allow the necessary work of government and Parliament to falter. Securing a fit-for-purpose regulatory framework for our universities, one that allows the entire sector to prepare for the future, is a vitally important part of this work.”
The regulatory framework is only one of many uncertainties facing university management and governor teams, but the array of help and advice is huge. We will be compiling a page on our website to direct you to many of these sources, but here are a few links in case you have discarded the emails you will, surely, have received from various organisations during the last few weeks.
PwC is very upbeat, saying, “History has taught us that UK business is adaptable and innovative when confronted with new challenges and opportunities.” and offers many pages of high level advice and food for thought.
Deloitte also offers a three-stage approach and an invitation to contact them “regarding your Brexit needs”.
Grant Thornton has a scenario planner to help you assess the Impact of Brexit on your organisation but their advice from early June that “institutions need to adapt to the changing environment” still holds.
Whilst the advisers’ sites are all very helpful, we particularly like The Financial Times Brexit section, with its mix of fact, insight, and comment. Tuesday’s editorial, with the headline “Britain needs a plan to mitigate the Brexit shock”, made the case for economic stimulus. There would be worse areas to stimulate than universities…
BUFDG and UCEA Update on the Apprenticeship Levy
BUFDG and UCEA (the Universities and Colleges Employers Association) attended a seminar last week, hosted by the Charity Tax Group and BIS, regarding the apprenticeship levy (UCEA has estimated universities will pay £63M). A joint update from BUFDG and UCEA on the information provided at the seminar is available here, but to whet your appetite, here's an extract: "Of particular interest from the BIS presentation were points around government targets for growth of apprenticeships, how the levy will be split between England and the devolved nations and information about the digital apprenticeship service. The questions session at the end of the seminar raised issues such as to whether higher level apprenticeships could be explored for academics, use of the levy within the devolved nations, and a big plea for the date of implementation to be delayed to allow charities to put in place their apprenticeship programmes in time."
Also, HEIs may recall that a trailblazer group of HEIs submitted a proposal to Government in April for three new apprenticeship standards, specifically for HE. UCEA understands from the trailblazer group leads that all HEIs in England will be provided with an update on this project before the end of July. UCEA will work, together with UUK, to ensure members are kept informed, and BUFDG will republish any public information via the Weekly Digest.
HEPA Launch Sustainable Procurement e-learning
We are pleased to announce the launch of our 6th e-learning module which focuses on sustainable procurement.
This is an introductory module which is aimed at those responsible for the procurement of products and services at all levels, including those who call off from framework agreements, have delegated purchasing authority, budget holders, and procurement professionals. It will introduce users to the background, processes and benefits of both sustainability and sustainable procurement and will serve as a refresher for more senior procurement professionals who need to consider how they are implementing processes into the function.
It should take you around 45 mins and there is a short quiz at the end to test what you have learnt.
To find out how to access this new module, visit the e-learning section of the HEPA site.
We are also working on an advanced module, which will be available in the Autumn and if you have purchased the introductory module, you will get the advanced one at no extra cost.
A lot can happen in a week.
While this time last week we knew we had a new PM, there was little but speculation about what it might mean for Universities. This week we have more clarity, as we now know more about the HE sector’s place in the (new government’s) world, and about who will be overseeing it.
After a relatively short and unsettled existence, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is no more. Instead we now have the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy; loosely made up of the former department and the absorbed Department for Energy and Climate Change, plus a new found warmth towards ‘Industrial Strategy’. The move could be seen as the result of the new PM appointing a ‘Minister for Brexit’, which took the number of Secretaries of State over the constitutional limit, and meant that one department (DECC) had to go.
The new BEIS (suggested pronunciation: ‘Bees’ – thanks Wonkhe!) is being headed up by Greg Clark, formerly of the department for Communities and Local Government. The big news being that the new department will hold the ‘research’ element of the universities brief, with the rest of it moving (back) to the Department for Education (under the newly-appointed Justine Greening). This sees universities split across two departments. Jo Johnson has kept his role as Universities minister, so now finds he has two bosses and a slightly more challenging job dealing with two sets of civil servants.
Then there’s the small matter of the HE Bill, which despite the possibility that it could be lost and/or forgotten amidst all the political turmoil, found its way to the chamber for a second reading on Tuesday, just days before parliament closes for the summer. The Bill passed and so the raft of changes outlined within are a step closer to becoming law.
For further reading on all the above, you might like to consider:
The HE Bill passes – Times Higher Education
Local growth is national growth
In partnership with the Local Government Association, Universities UK and the NHS Confederation, HEFCE held the first in a series of workshops on New Forms of Funding on 6th July in the University of Leeds. Speakers provided fascinating insights into different forms of bonds and how these may be best developed by anchor institutions. The presentation slides are available through a new group on LinkedIn – and HEFCE will use this group to continue to communicate as the programme of work continues. If you would like more information, contact Kevin Richardson, Local Growth Consultant to HEFCE. BUFDG and AUDE will be working with Kevin over the next few months to bring information to FDs and Directors of Estates at regional meetings and conferences.
Requirements for Universities under Regulation 113 of the PCR
Regulation 113 of the Public Contracts regulations requires contracting authorities to publish on the internet information surrounding the percentage of invoices paid within 30 days, and interest paid to suppliers for late payment, as well as requiring the prompt payment of invoices. Following requests from some Heads of Procurement in England, HEPA approached Mills and Reeve to ask for some formal guidance around the regulations. The advice is available to view here.
Please get in touch with Emma if you have any questions.
Autumn regional tax group meetings
The meeting dates and venues for the South West, Midlands and Northern tax group meetings have been finalised and booking is now available. The meeting dates and venues are as follows:
- The Northern tax group meeting will be held on 14th October in York - details and booking can be found here;
- The South West tax group meeting will be held on 27th October in Bristol - details and booking can be found here; and
- The Midlands tax group meeting will be held on 16th November in Birmingham - details and booking can be found here.
Anyone working in tax in a university is welcome to attend any tax group meeting.
Details of the other regional tax group meetings will be made available shortly.
ESPD/PQQ update – England and Wales
As you may be aware I am regularly in touch with CCS to understand when they will update the guidelines for using the standard PQQ document following the introduction of the ESPD document. The full statement I received from CCS yesterday is as follows:
“I've been working with my colleague who has been leading on the ESPD work to resolve this. The delay now has been caused by the EU referendum result. We continue, of course, to be bound by the EU procurement directives and the UK regulations that transpose them and we are discussing with lawyers the best way to issue the revised guidance. It's too early to say what the impact of the referendum vote will be on the procurement regime but we do still intend publish revised guidance on exclusion and selection soon. In the meantime if a contracting authority receives an ESPD from a supplier in one of the devolved nations of the UK or another member state they should accept it for supplier information and exclusion purposes but are at liberty to ask the selection questions set out in the standard PQQ.”
I will continue to pass on any updates I receive.
TRAC Conference 2016 - book now
The TRAC Development Group (TDG) is pleased to announce that the conference for TRAC practitioners will take place on Monday the 3rd October and will be held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, London. The event bookings are being managed through BUFDG, and the delegate fee is £195.
The conference theme is ‘Navigating change and uncertainty to support success’. Keynote speakers will consider the current state of the sector, the role of management information, and financial sustainability, as well as the TRAC implications of the re-organisation of research. Delegates will further their understanding of FRS102 and how the new TRAC guidance is impacted by the change, together with a broader focus on gaining greater utility from TRAC data.
A workshop will also be provided to outline key findings and opportunities arising from the Management Information Projects, which are focussed on increased efficiency in the TRAC process, enhanced benchmarking and PGT costing. The conference will provide an opportunity to hear from a range of institutions on their approaches to key aspects of the TRAC process; to learn about good practice; and network with colleagues from across the UK. To book a place, please click here.
Are you sure of your obligations under the Modern Slavery Act?
Universities have a responsibility, as ethical public buyers as well as under the Modern Slavery Act, to mitigate the social and human rights risks in the supply chain of the products they procure. This half-day course will provide international and national context to HE obligations, and ensure that delegates not only understand their Modern Slavery statement but also the requirements to develop it over time.
The course will be held at The Wesley Hotel, Euston Road, London, NW1 2EZ, on the 22nd September, and will be delivered by Dr Olga Martin-Ortega. It costs £95, and will also contribute to delegates’ CIPS CPD hours - you will be able to claim 3.5 taught hours via the CIPS website. The course will be a Registration is from 10am with the course starting at 10.30am and finishing by 2.30pm (to include a buffet lunch). Click here for more information and to book.
In related news, there are a couple of places left for the 'Negotiation within the Procurement Regulations' course on the 1st August. There are details here and, if you'd like to attend, drop Emma an email.
Job of the Week
The Job of the Week is for a Deputy Systems Manager in the Finance team at the Universty of Bristol. The role 'presents an exciting opportunity for an experienced Agresso systems professional, to join the newly formed Integrated Finance and HR Systems Team'. Applications close on 31st July.