24th May 2017

Weekly Digest
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Court Circular Karel Thomas

There are vacancies in quite a few institutions, with recruitment agents busy researching and phoning round. If you are looking for your next move and would like us to mention you when they call, please let us know. John Headley has now joined The University of Law and John Garnham is looking forward to joining the University of East London as interim Finance Director at the beginning of June. LSHTM are recruiting his successor as I write. We are pleased to welcome John Unsworth back to the sector as interim FD at Brunel.

The new bufdg.ac.uk Dominic Fryer

As you may have noticed if you’ve visited bufdg.ac.uk over the last two days, we now have a new website! We’ve made lots of changes to improve the site for you, which you’ll no doubt discover as you use the site week to week. However here is a summary of some of the main points – I’ll round up the rest in next week’s bulletin.

  • Content - We have been through all the content on the site and had a good clear out. We have archived lots of news and documents, so that you can really find what you need
  • Structure – we have added more structure to the resources sections – so rather than just a tax section, we now have it broken down by tax type (eg: vat, corporation tax etc) but also by activity type (eg: research, accommodation, gift aid etc).
  • Navigation – we have added a brand new top navigation menu, so you can find your way around the site more easily. We have also added another layer of navigation to the resource areas – to make sure you don’t get lost.
  • Look and Feel – the site has a new look and feel. Much cleaner, crisper and simple to use
  • Related news/content – when you view a news item or an item of content, you will see a right hand panel which shows you other content that you might be interested in. It uses the key tags from the page you are looking at, and tries to find other similar things you might like.

We always welcome feedback, so it you have any comments on the site, please let Dominic know.

HMRC proposes more work for universities buying construction services Amanda Darley

Hot on the heels of forcing universities to identify affected personal services companies and calculate their tax and NI liabilities (as well as the additional NI burden itself), HMRC is proposing that customers (including universities) receiving construction services should calculate and pay reverse charge VAT on those services (when received from UK suppliers) in order to prevent fraud in the UK construction industry.

How easily would your university be able to do this? What is the value of the supplies this proposal could apply to? BUFDG will be responding to HMRC's consultation on these proposals, and we need information from you in order to inform that response. We would be grateful if you could respond to our survey asking about the value of your capital programme, how you calculate reverse charge VAT at present, and how you might do so in future on these supplies from UK suppliers. Please respond to the survey by the end of Friday 26th May. If you have any additional comments on the consultation, please contact Amanda.

Building new networks Rachel McLone

The first Personal Assistant to the Finance Director Regional meeting was held at Liverpool John Moore’s University this month and PA’s were invited from across the North West. It was very much a trial but the meeting was considered a success. Topics covered on the day included networking, the changing role of the PA, development opportunities, and examples of useful resources and shared learning. There were also some points raised to BUFDG about how we could be of further support.

The biggest positive as you may expect, was the opportunity for the PA’s to speak to and develop a network of individuals in a similar role. Thank you to Susan Rosin (LJMU) for the idea and leading on this and also to Kathleen Parker (Lancaster University), Ros Ballinger (University of Manchester), Sinead Logan (University of Salford) and Tammy Cooke (Manchester Metropolitan University) for your input.

If you would like to know more or are interested in a regional FD PA meeting in your area, please contact Rachel.

Even more of an Adventure in Wonderland! Rachel McLone

More sessions confirmed! We have 2 more sessions confirmed for the Adventures in Wonderland event – so if it wasn’t a bargain already, it certainly is now. This is a rare opportunity to have access this range of speakers, networking and exhibitors for just £75 with no travel costs either! Once you have signed up and logged in on the day, you can access as much or as little as you wish - just pick and choose what suits you and your diary. 

So in addition to all the other sessions (raising debt, governance, responsible investing, managing currency risks, to name a few), you also get:

  • Market Funds – are the risk real or imagined? The changing legislative environment, what the regulator is trying to achieve, what they will achieve and what that means for investors.  The session will look at worked examples and if there are any ‘real world’ risks. (Dennis Gepp, CIO Federated Investors)
  • The Government Liquidity Fund - A short animated video introducing the Gilt Repo Markets and how HEI treasurers can benefit from disintermediating banks through the Government Liquidity Fund (Robert O’Riordan, Institutional Business Development Director).

 Click here for the full agenda. Don't miss out on this opportunity - if you have any queries on how the event will work, please contact Rachel.

Manifesto watch Matt Sisson

The tragic events in Manchester on Monday evening have brought election campaigning to a standstill, and rightly dominated the news headlines. However, there are a few HE-related points of note that emerged earlier in the week. We’ve had manifesto publications from the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives – the first includes a pledge to restore maintenance grants, among other things, but largely steers clear of universities, according to an article on Wonkhe - while the latter reaffirms the pledge to keep students in the immigration figures, which the Conservatives will again attempt to limit to the ‘tens of thousands’. The Conservative document also claims the party will force most universities to sponsor academies or free schools as a condition for charging the top fee level – on the plus side it also promises to double national spend on R&D. Here’s what Nick Hillman at HEPI has to say.

Not to be out-publicised, Labour published a prompt amendment to its own recently-published manifesto on Sunday, promising to scrap tuition fees for 2017 starters.

Financial Reporting Newsletter Matt Sisson

In case you missed it, last week we published the first Financial Reporting Group Newsletter of the year. Among the host of topical updates it includes is the recent project to review over 60 HEI financial statements against the new SORP, where findings confirm that compliance has been high. There are a number of areas identified where additional guidance might be useful, and these will form the basis of upcoming regional training events. Other articles cover the Apprenticeship Levy, the FRS102 triennial review, gender pay gap disclosure requirements, USS deficit calculations, and the capitalisation of internal staff working on capital projects.

Finally, the model financial statements have been updated to include a revised tax accounting policy note. Download the full newsletter here.

Receiving the right discussion updates Matt Sisson

Judging by the increase in usage year-on-year, the discussion boards are a useful resource for members. If you’ve visited the boards in the last two days, you’ll notice that while they look a bit prettier, much of the functionality remains the same. We’ve added the option to start a new topic from the overview page, without having to first navigate to the topic area you want to post in. We’ve also added a new ‘view more’ button to make it clearer how to view more discussions on your topic of choice.

Recent popular discussions include topics as varied as On-line expenses systems, apportioning the apprenticeship levy,  bad debt provision rates, and the VAT treatment of academic transcripts. Whether or not you receive email notifications of updates to discussions depends on the ‘interests’ you have set in your ‘MyDetails’ area. Click to head there and update your preferences.

FRG Workshops - Don't miss out! Rachel McLone

Don’t miss out on the FRG Workshops in June! We are seeing a high demand for these with 112 places booked so far. The London and North West workshops are full and there are just 2 places left in Wales. As a reminder - following the in-depth survey into Financial Statements by BUFDG, the FRG and the Audit firms, the workshops will cover:

  • Overview of findings from the review
  • Identification of discrepancies and support to resolve
  • Best practice guidance and examples
  • Discussion of how Universities can start to incorporate 'integrated reporting' principles

Click to book a space on the remaining workshops - North East - 15th JuneMidlands - 20th JuneScotland - 22nd JuneWales - 27th JuneSouth West - 29th June. For any queries, please contact Rachel.

Job of the Week Matt Sisson

This week’s Job of the Week is for a Procurement Category Manager at the University of Sheffield. Among other requirements, the successful candidate “will be responsible for planning and delivering procurement activities that offer the best value for money solutions for the University”, and “will work to identify new opportunities in relation to Category Management that will add value and reflect better pricing arrangements”. The deadline for applications is the 5th June. There are lots of other vacancies listed on the new jobs page