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05th August 2020

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BUFDG Digest - Wednesday 5 August 2020 Amanda Darley


Is it really August already? It seems as if the year so far has rushed past while simultaneously dragging on and on, as we’ve been through the various states and stages of lockdown, all the while trying to undertake our normal tasks in abnormal times. And now we’re already a few days into the new financial year which is likely to be anything but normal, and it’s almost time to see what this year’s A-level results process produces.



If lockdown has taught us one positive thing, it’s that we can share a lot of information with a lot of people in an efficient way, if we utilise digital resources. And so that is BUFDG will be continuing to do – utilise and improve our digital resources and services for members. So here’s our final request for BUFDG members to help us with that process, to ensure that the end result is a much improved service for members. If you can spare a small amount of time to help out with our digital transformation project over the next 12-18 months, then please take two minutes to complete this quick survey to let us know. Many thanks to those who have already volunteered – we will be in touch with everyone in September to get going.

We’ve been having a review of our member preferences process now that GDPR has settled down a little, and as a result we have made a couple of changes. So any existing member who had not actively opted out of receiving the BUFDG Digest and discussion board alerts will now receive them automatically. This change came into effect last week, and anyone affected should have received an email from us already. Anyone can amend their preferences to opt out or otherwise update their information on their MyBUFDG page.



The Welsh education minister has announced extra funding of £50m for Welsh universities and colleges (£27m for HE), under a scheme that WonkHE describes as ‘refreshingly simple’, after all the complexities of the various opportunities for financial assistance for English HEIs. The announcement itself also contains the refreshing premise that ‘the purpose of education is not simply to get a job. It is about becoming an informed and engaged citizen’ – something that may have been forgotten by many in recent years. The HEFCW news release on Welsh funding for 2020/21, released on 4 August, notes, however, that the overall funding allocated to Welsh HE providers is £21m lower than previously anticipated due to revisions made by the Welsh Government to their original budget allocation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. And there’s still concern over student hardship in Wales, and whether any of the £27m will help to ease this.



We’ve just launched a number of new e-learning courses for our BUFDG Pro members this week, so do check them out or pass them on to colleagues. The new courses just launched are:

  • A Guide to Writing an Effective Business Case;
  • Corporation Tax: University NPP Trading Computations;
  • Corporation Tax: Managing Subsidiaries; and
  • Extended Workforce: Employment Status & IR35.

These join the other new modules we launched in April (three different Expenses and Benefits modules), and we’re also expecting to launch our ‘Intro to TRAC’ and ‘Intro to Research Finance’ modules shortly. We’d love to hear suggestions for other modules that we can start working on in the autumn, so if you’ve got any ideas, please drop Amanda a line.

While we’ve paused most of our Time to Talk sessions and virtual meetings so the BUFDG team can have a bit of downtime during August, we’re diving deep into the world of virtual conferences this autumn, with the TRAC conference, the Tax conference and the Management Accountants conference all due to take place in late September and October. Prices are significantly reduced compared to our physical conferences, so do have a look at the booking links above and consider spending some time with your counterparts in other HEIs across the UK while absorbing and mulling over the latest TRAC, tax and MA updates.



The latest issue of TaxHE was published last week, covering concerns around accommodation benefits, including a joint UCEA/BUFDG guidance document on the changes, proposed changes to termination payments, good news on BUFDG’s request on extending the deadline to credit customers over the change in VAT rate on e-publications, and much more. Read it all here.

If you would like to receive a notification about our fortnightly TaxHE publication straight to your inbox on the day it’s published, you can now add this to your preferences on your MyBUFDG page.

We’ve got news on the JRS Bonus scheme if your HEI is considering applying for that. It’s a very simple premise: if your JRS submissions are accurate and up to date, each eligible employee continuously employed through to the end of January may earn you a £1,000 bonus from the Government. Although there are conditions – find out more in our article.

The Charity Tax Group has announced that HMRC has changed its stance (slightly) on web-advertising – but the new interpretation of the zero-rating for charity advertising certainly needs careful reading to understand how it affects your advertising budget, and they still don’t appear to allow social media advertising to a personal account at all.

As mentioned above, our first ever virtual tax conference is currently open for booking! Tickets are only £150 (inc. VAT), and there is 20% discount for any additional bookings from the same HEI (though do please read the instructions on the booking page on how to obtain the discount carefully). The conference will take place over three days from 6-8 October in the comfort of your own home/office, so anyone who has previously been put off by the location/travel time/cost – now is the perfect opportunity to attend! Further details and booking can be found here.



The slides from the recent contract law training session with framework supplier Capital Law are now available on the HEPA website.



The Labour Party has released it’s ‘7 Key Tests for Higher Education’ which give some insight into Labour’s emerging HE policy. In the current turbulent times it is perhaps not surprising that the comforting test ‘no university should be allowed to go bust’ is at the top of the list, but what perhaps is remarkable is that university fees don’t even get a mention. WonkHE describes the short statement from Labour as ‘crushingly unambitious’, and sees it as a missed opportunity, in an equally short commentary on the ‘tests’ (which WonkHE doesn’t consider to be tests at all).

Job of the fortnight is the Head of Academic Finance at the University of the Arts London. The successful candidate will play a key role in ensuring the financial plans for the colleges are robust and sustainable, working with a broad range of stakeholders. Find out about this, and other HE finance jobs, here.

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