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18th May 2022

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BUFDG Digest - Wednesday 18th May Matt Sisson


BUFDG IS RECRUITING!

BUFDG is looking for a Projects Manager, to act as the lead liaison between BUFDG staff and/or members and external service providers on a number of interesting projects. Typical projects will have impact beyond BUFDG, influencing other management and academic functions in higher education providers, providers of services to the HE sector, government departments and policy. The role is based at home (although we do have access to an office in Loughborough too if you prefer). More information, and all the documentation to download, is available here. The closing date for applications is Monday 6 June.

Also, a reminder that the BUFDG Payroll & Expenses Group (PEG) is seeking a Chair for their national chair meetings, held 3 times a year, where the latest employment taxes and payroll issues are discussed between regional chairs and trusted advisers with a view to agreeing agendas for regional meetings. We are seeking an individual with a finance background and an interest in tax, to host these meetings and ensure proper conduct of the attendees.  The Chair is supported by the BUFDG Employment Tax Specialist, Julia Ascott. Contact Julia for more information.


ANNUAL MEETING

Two weeks ago, we held an in-person meeting in Bristol for all our FD members. It was the first time everyone had had a chance to be together in that way for three years. It was a small event - significantly scaled back from our pre-pandemic conferences, and focused on plenary discussions and peer-to-peer networking without sponsorship or exhibitions. Like many similar organisations, BUFDG is still experimenting with the right mix of events as we start to come out of the pandemic, and we’ll be taking our time to analyse the feedback properly before we make a decision on the size and shape of events for future years. It was though fantastic to see everyone, and anecdotal evidence so far suggests delegates thought the same!


STILL NEWS…

In case you were too busy (or on holiday) when the last Digest came out, here are some important announcements we don’t want anyone to miss out on. Firstly, we’re pleased to share the BUFDG Annual Report for 2022, which covers BUFDG activities since April 2021. As always, our aim is not to produce a glossy brochure for your virtual coffee table, but rather a balanced report of how BUFDG is run, the challenges we’ve faced, how we’ve adapted, and what our plans are for the coming year. What we hope it also captures is all the hard work that so many of you, our members, have put in to making BUFDG a success over the last 12 months.

Secondly, Our newly revised BUFDG Guide to UK Universities and Tax is now available! The document provides a high-level overview of the many areas where tax impacts on UK universities, looking at taxes relating to people, income, and expenditure. There is a myth that universities, as charities and/or public bodies, simply do not pay tax, and so tax is not an issue. Unfortunately, this is not the case, as the guide demonstrates. So, wherever you work in HE, we hope that you will find the new guide useful. And please forward this link to anyone who needs a little bit more background.

Thirdly, the USS deficit modeller has been rolled forward to 2021/22. This modeller reflects the agreed contribution rates which came into force from 1/4/22 following the conclusion of the 2020 valuation and subsequent negotiations. The discount rates as at 31 July 2022 should be available within a week of the year end.


SECTOR / GENERAL

REF day has officially been and gone. Nick Hillman has an excellent article suggesting how the sector can make sense of the outcomes. And here’s the Wonkhe round-up and results.

The OfS has published its invitation for institutions to bid for three-years’ worth of capital funding (£400 million in total). You might want to read this before you bid.

Inflation in the UK has hit a 40-year high of 9%, driven by sky-rocketing energy costs and geopolitical pressures. One of the areas impacted by inflation is student loans in England – IFS has a recent podcast on the future of the system, where you can hear from Paul Johnson, education expert Ben Waltmann (who spoke at the BUFDG Annual Meeting in Bristol), and Augar Review panellist Ivor Crewe.

There was quite a lot for HE to ponder in last week’s Queen’s Speech. Here’s the summary courtesy of the team at Wonkhe.


TAXES

Today (18th May)  is International Museum Day. Universities are host to some of the country’s most fascinating museums, sometimes playing a role in academic research but also for public enjoyment. Do you know about the Museum of Design in Plastic at Bournemouth Arts University, The Hunterian Museum at Glasgow, or the Royal College of Music’s Museum? There are also tax issues for museums and galleries which BUFDG team keeps an eye on – catch up on the Time to Talk: Corporation Tax and VAT cultural reliefs for theatres, orchestras, museums and galleries and make sure you never miss a tax issue that affects universities by signing up for TaxHE, delivered every fortnight to your inbox.

BUFDG are thrilled to publish this guidance paper on considerations when providing an electric company car as a voluntary benefit using salary sacrifice, produced by Mazars. At the end of 2021, this discussion post was raised questioning whether any universities were exploring a green car salary sacrifice scheme. Clearly, the driving factor is the reduction of emissions, but we also know it comes with added advantages, including the provision of a valued benefit and reduction of employer NIC for the university (with the latter savings even greater since the Health & Social Care Levy was introduced in April 2022). BUFDG commissioned Mazars to provide this report into the tax and NIC savings available for electric company cars via salary sacrifice arrangements.  Furthermore, Mazars have also provided information on how universities can decide on the scheme they would like to offer and questions to ask when interviewing potential scheme providers.

This KPMG article looks at the importance of training to manage any off-payroll working (OPW) compliance risks.  Once you’ve read through this article and want to ensure your staff are up to date with their OPW knowledge, BUFDG ran a free training session for universities earlier this year looking at the OPW rules, along with the assessment of sole traders who don’t fall within the OPW rules.  The BUFDG training was specifically run to ensure that universities met their requirements in training staff and is available to rewatch here. Incidentally, HMRC have also updated links to recorded webinars to get help with the OPW rules.

You may have seen the government’s response to the consultation on exclusivity clauses in employment contracts. Legislation will be introduced to ban exclusivity clauses (making them unenforceable) where guaranteed weekly income is at or less than the Lower Earnings Limit (currently £123 per week). Exclusivity clauses have often been cited as a determining factor in employment status checks; where an individual is only permitted to work with the engager, it is an indicator of employment rather than self-employment.  This change will certainly muddy the waters a little, but not to a significant effect given that it will only apply to low paid individuals.

The CIOT reported on the peers debate of 27 April where the majority of peers expressed their doubts about CEST, unfairness in denying individuals employment rights, revenue raising being the driver of change, unscrupulous rogue umbrella companies and the lack of legal route to appeal against engager’s decisions.

HMRC have announced that the import control checks "for goods arriving from the EU and other territories that were due to be introduced from 1 July 2022 will no longer be introduced in 2022.....[The government]... will target the end of 2023 as the revised introduction date for our controls regime." (See Safety and security requirements on imports and exports for further information.)


OTHER

Our latest blog comes from Ravi Sibal at Homelease – a new approach to financing existing or new student accommodation, whilst retaining control of the assets. In the blog Ravi talks about the challenges facing the sector, the Homelease approach and its benefits, and what makes it unique. Homelease are also hosting a Time to Talk session to explain and to discuss with universities in more detail, on the morning of 9 June. Registration is here.

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) has started a global consultation on developing a sustainability reporting framework for the public sector.

There has been quite a lot in Wonkhe over the last fortnight on levelling-up and partnerships. Phillip Blond makes the case for FE to be the focus for the levelling-up agenda, Cathy Mitchell thinks universities should invest more in early-years education to widen access, while Julian Crockford thinks universities should be working much more closely with their local schools.

Our Job of the Fortnight is for a Head of Finance at the University of Chester. Reporting to the CFO, the successful candidate will “be a qualified accountant with several years post qualification experience and have strong technical skills”. They will “have responsibility for the broad range of services offered by the department including monthly and year end reporting, statutory returns, project finance, finance systems development, as well as transactional services”. The deadline for applications is 27 May.


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