19th October 2016

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Brexit: Potential Impact on VAT in the UK Higher Education Sector Amanda Darley

Following queries from sector colleagues, we’ve drafted a briefing document on the likely impact of Brexit on VAT in the UK higher education sector. It is based on views within the HE sector itself, as well as informal discussions with advisers. It is not intended to represent the views of HMRC or government, with whom BUFDG has not yet commenced discussions on this topic. We hope you find it interesting and useful. If you have any questions at all about the document, contact Amanda

Management Accountants Conference - slides now available Rachel McLone

Thank you to all the delegates who joined us at the Management Accountants Conference. We hope you gained valuable insight and enjoyed it as much as we did!  

This event was hugely popular and oversubscribed so we will be arranging another event and communicating it in due course. Your feedback will be critical to us landing another successful conference, so please ensure you complete your email feedback survey by Friday 21st October.

Slides are now available from the Management Accounting resource area of the site.

Apprenticeship Levy Update Matt Sisson

Over the last few months the details of the apprenticeship levy, and its impact on HE, have started to solidify. As a reminder, all organisations with a pay bill of £3M+ will have to pay the apprenticeship levy of 0.5% of the annual bill. This is a lot of money for universities and could be seen as a tax, the paying of which can’t be passed on, and from which it is hard to derive benefit.

However, the sector is looking to mitigate some of the pain, by working on plans to:

(a) employ people as apprentices – UCEA have produced a recent circular dated 13th October (ask your HR director for a copy) outlining work, spearheaded by Southampton Solent and Staffordshire University, to develop a number of apprenticeship standards that would work in universities. However, there are opportunities in further areas, such as estates, IT, and Finance, and there is currently a steering group working on a level 7 apprenticeship in accountancy.

(b) provide training to employers who have apprentices who need to be trained (a number of universities are already marketing themselves as providers of choice).

HEFCE has a development fund to support some of this work. If you’d like to know more about the implementation of the levy in the sector, talk to your HR director or contact UCEA, who we are also working closely with to ensure that the sector responds to consultations and that operational payroll staff are up to speed with developments.

Payroll and Expenses Groups Matt Sisson

A final reminder that the Autumn/Winter Payroll and Expenses Group meetings will be held around the country throughout November. We're pleased to be working with Grant Thornton (who are kindly hosting the groups), to offer all payroll professionals and finance staff responsible for expenses and benefits the opportunity to hear from expert advisers about topical issues, and to share their experiences (both good and bad) with colleagues from other HEIs.

Details of event locations and timings are available from the booking links below. You can attend whatever date and location is most convenient to you. And if you have any questions about the meetings, or would like to suggest agenda items, drop Gill an email. The events are:

Executive Impersonation Fraud Matt Sisson

Over the last few months there have been a number of alerts circulated relating to Executive impersonation fraud, whereby a fraudster uses clever email tricks to send an email to the finance department – purporting to be from a university leader (normally a V-C, FD, or similar) – requesting a payment. Enough of these have been doing the rounds (not just in HE) to gain the attention of the Government Internal Audit Agency. It has produced a useful A4 briefing, which provides context, detection and protection tips, and more.

USS Modeller update Matt Sisson

In case you missed it last week, USS has revised the modeller for calculating the provision for deficit recovery contributions under the 2015 plan. Using the revised version 1.1 (dated October) will generate the same balance sheet provisions at 31 July 2015 and 2016 as version 1.0 (dated July). The change is that the interest charge is now based on the opening discount rate (the rate used to calculate the opening provision) rather than the closing rate as in version 1.0.  For 2015-16, Because of the marked reduction in bond rates over the year, version 1.1 will produce a higher interest charge and a correspondingly lower pay cost than version 1.0.  For 2014-15 the reverse is true. The BUFDG FRG has reviewed version 1.1 and agree with the change.

The updated modeller can be downloaded from the website here.

Action Learning Sets Rachel McLone

We still have places available on the Action Learning Sets. These are a great opportunity for Deputy Director level staff (or equivalent) to develop their questioning and active listening skills, gain exposure to different challenges, and develop a fresh perspective - so dont miss out. Applications are due in to Rachel McLone by Wednesday 26th October. For further details and how to apply, click here.

Asking the tax question Matt Sisson

Every once in a while Finance staff need to engage with, and educate, non-finance colleagues or external stakeholders on university tax issues – whether that’s in relation to property developments, research projects, work overseas, or a myriad of other scenarios. In many cases, finance staff wish that colleagues had ‘asked the tax question’ much sooner than they may have done (if they have at all).

Back in 2014 BUFDG produced a briefing, written by Harriet Latham, to support staff through such a situation. It is unsurprisingly called HEIs and Tax, and it has been one of our most downloaded resources. While it will soon be due an update for our more complicated times, it is still largely relevant. If you’re new to the sector, or just missed it the first time around, then please take a look.

Category Management training – new date added Emma Keenan

As promised in last weeks’ newsletter we have now finalised details for our next Category Management Training, taking place in central London on the 24th January 2017. The one day training course, delivered by Dave Porter of ArcBlue Global is aimed at providing the knowledge and skills required to contribute to the creation of category and sourcing strategies.

It will cover the principles of category management and the 'Instigate, Innovate, Implement and Improve' strategic procurement process, category mapping using the Proc-He classification system, and the application of analytical tools at the Instigate and Innovate stages.

This training will include:

  • principles of category management and the ‘Instigate, Innovate, Implement and Improve’ strategic procurement process
  • category mapping using the Proc-He classification system
  • applying analytical tools at the ‘Instigate and Innovate’ stages
  • identifying and evaluating options
  • implementation planning and related roles and responsibilities
  • presentation, discussion and relevant case study group exercises

Previous events have sold out quickly so do book early to reserve your place

Variation on bank mandate fraud Matt Sisson

A variation on bank mandate fraud has been spotted in a number of different sectors. This one occurs when the fraudster, either by a phishing attack or other means, gains access to the email account of either the supplier or customer. They then use this access to intercept emails and doctor the bank details on PDF invoices before sending them on as expected. The scam is detailed on AccountingWeb here.

Fortunately, the risk is mitigated by the usual checks – always phoning to confirm any changes of details, and relying on trusted details to cross-check (your own database, the internet, etc) rather than the invoice itself.

If any university has suffered an attack of this kind, and has any sector-specific information to add, then please post in the discussion board thread - anonymously if need be (by ticking the 'anonymous' box). And remember, if you have any fraud insight, or would like to alert the sector to a fraud you may have recently come across, post it up on the Fraud alert board to share it with colleagues.

Job of the Week Hayley Overton

This week's Job of the Week is for a Chief Financial Officer at University of Cambridge. The CFO's responsibilities include "developing and executing the financial strategy of the University group (including a long-term financial plan), and leading the University's major financial, business and commercial developments and opportunities". The closing date for applications is Friday 11th November. 


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