17th September 2014

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September Tax Newsletter Amanda Darley

This week we’ve a whole host of tax news for you to get your teeth into, covering PwC SAP tools for VAT, an update to VAT on temporary workers and e-books, and confirmation of VAT treatment for ‘friends’ donations schemes. We also look at the direction of Scottish Taxes, and new in-year PAYE filing penalties. Download it here

Being open about failure Matt Sisson

Organisations would be more dynamic, and have greater success, if they promoted a culture of openness about failure, according to Alicia Clegg in the FT this week. “Employers often talk about empowering people to take risks and learn from mistakes. Yet few organisations know how to talk about failure when it happens, still less how to learn from it”, she says. She believes there is increasing evidence that morale and performance can improve if people are allowed to talk about their mistakes, without fear of reprisals.

“Serious failures are often the last step in a chain of smaller ones – putting the wrong person on a job, failing to supervise, etc − that pile up catastrophically”, the article says. “They may seem inevitable; but at any point someone could have intervened. It simply requires people to act when they spot others, including bosses, making mistakes”.

In order for this to happen, Organisations should take steps to ensure that employees know that it is safe to talk about mistakes, and often this needs leading from the top. “senior leaders can drop the pretence of infallibility and talk about “when they didn’t succeed” instead of only talking about successes. Publicly applauding employees who raise the alarm sends a message that the responsibility for preventing errors is shared by all.” Read the full article here

UUK student funding panel - submissions welcomed Matt Sisson

In April this year Universities UK announced the establishment of a new Student Funding Panel. The Panel includes university vice-chancellors and policy experts from outside the sector. The Terms of Reference for the panel include: to consider the design of the current student fees and loan system in England; to assess the feasibility of these proposals and models; to consider the potential impact on Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland of proposals in relation to England, and vice versa; to provide a forum to build a broad political consensus for a stable and sustainable system of funding for the long term.

As part of the process, the panel is welcoming submissions (from HE institutions in particular) on the student fees and loan system, via a series of survey questions. Respondents need not answer all questions, and responses focusing on one question or a subset of the questions are welcomed. Submissions of evidence may be published, unless the respondent indicates the response is submitted ‘in confidence.’

The deadline for submissions is Friday 26th September.

Obsessed with change? Matt Sisson

Thomas Harrison, Rathbone professor of ancient history and classical archaeology at the University of Liverpool, argues that, although there was once a time at universities where change was to be resisted at all costs, “today, by contrast, change is held as sacred”. Writing in the THE this week, he says that “it feels at times as if we are trapped in a train running out of control”, where ‘enhancement’, restless ‘improvement’, ‘continuity’, ‘growth’, ‘development’, and ‘transformation’ are the buzzwords that are packaged within a strategy and “a steadfast commitment to the overall programme of change”.

“But we also know”, he writes “effecting the ‘transformational change’ that universities seek (improving research performance, say) is a task that is impossible to achieve through any central fiat – and, conversely, that many of the most profound changes are unintended consequences.” As a result he calls for a ‘change to ‘change’’.

“The really revolutionary university leader will be the one who champions consolidation, making do and mending where possible; the one who disavows massive overhaul for its own sake, or who calls for real change: the incremental rather than alchemical sort, which requires patient grind, genuine engagement and common purpose”.

We need to talk about collaboration Matt Sisson

Collaboration is the topic of a Public Finance lunchtime webinar on Thursday 25th September, 1-2pm. Large organisations are increasingly sharing functions, leaders, and management teams. It is also becoming more apparent that many problems cannot be tackled by organisations working in silos but require a cross-sector approach. Meanwhile, the shift towards contracting and outsourcing underlines the importance of collaboration with private- and third-sector partners. Relationships across and between sectors need to be strong, clear and productive, and relationships between different parts of large organisations need to be developed to improve effectiveness.

The webinar will consider the extent to which collaboration is an effective response to current policy and funding challenges, barriers to collaboration and how they can be overcome, how to establish, nurture and maintain successful collaborative working relationships both within and beyond the public sector, and the risks that come with greater collaboration and how they can be managed.

For more information, and to register, click here

Open Access Publishing - Jisc Guide Matt Sisson

Over the last two years the UK government, European Commission and major research funders have initiated policy moves in support of Open Access publishing. These moves will have significant financial implications for HEIs. To help university finance teams navigate the transition, JISC have kindly put together a short briefing. It aims to help finance staff understand the changing costs under the new regime, how these will affect the budgets of library, research office and other institutional units, and how the costs can be offset.

The briefing also contains links to other JISC projects and resources on Open Access that will be of particular interest to finance teams. You can download the briefing from the BUFDG website

HEFCE news Matt Sisson

There have been a number of updates from HEFCE over the last week:

HEFCE has published the new Operating Framework for HE. The framework describes how regulation of HE in England currently operates, and is intended to provide confidence to students, staff and the public about registered HE providers. You can find an overview of the framework here.

Alongside the new Operating Framework, HEFCE has published its first register of HE providers. The register is intended to be an authoritative reference point that “brings together a range of information from different sources for ease of reference”. Providers are listed on the register where they directly receive grants for higher education, have courses which are eligible for English student support funding, are classed as ‘higher education institutions’, or have the power to award one or more type of UK higher education degree. 

Research commissioned by HEFCE into postgraduate student trends has found that institutions see few prospects for a big increase in UK postgraduate applicants, due to undergraduate loan levels and relatively little postgraduate funding. However, where there is available funding, institutions report little difficulty in attracting highly qualified applicants. It also finds that “the introduction of the Research Council doctoral training centre model is increasing the concentration of PG research provision”, among other conclusions.

Lastly, the latest announcement on UKRPIF funding involves £15million which, combined with £45million from other sources, will go towards a new graphene research hub. According to HEFCE, “This is the fourth project to be announced from the third round of UKRPIF [Note 1]. This brings the total number of successful projects across the three funding rounds to 26. Universities have received £366 million in public funding, and have secured at least double that amount of investment from businesses or charities, together delivering more than £1.35 billion of new funding for research.”

Job of the Week Matt Sisson

Our 'job of the week' for this week is for a Tax Manager at Keele University. For all the other sector jobs, take a look at our jobs page. To advertise a job with us, email the link to Gill.

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