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06th November 2019

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BUFDG Monthly Digest - Wednesday 6th November Matt Sisson


After saying a sad goodbye and a massive thank you to Caroline on 31 October, we are delighted to welcome our new Payroll & Employment Taxes Specialist to BUFDG this week - Julia Ascott joins us with a wealth of employment tax experience and a huge amount of motivation to help our members!

Julia has worked in employment tax for 20 years, having worked for Deloitte and Grant Thornton, as well as running her own company providing technical, yet practical, advice to her clients. As well as working with BUFDG over the past year to present at two BUFDG tax conferences and to create the new BUFDG Employment Status Tool, Julia has considerable experience in employment status assessments and working with organisations undergoing HMRC status reviews. She has also spent time in recent years advising clients on implementing or simplifying internal procedures and checks to increase compliance and provided training to help reduce the stresses associated with assessing status. Julia will be attending some of the new International Forum meetings and remaining PEG meetings during November and is looking forward to meeting our members.

Unfortunately, we are still recruiting for a Tax Specialist! Have a look at the job spec - you will rarely find a more interesting and varied tax role. We're looking for the right person to be the right fit for BUFDG - could that be you? Or do you know someone you think might be well suited to the role? Please pass it on!


Financial Reporting

It’s a bit late, but the OfS has published its guidance for providers for the annual financial return.

The minutes of the latest Financial Reporting Group meeting are available on the BUFDG website. The ones for April are also there, in case you missed them.



Not much for this month, except that it didn’t happen. Have an election instead. The DfE has updated the information pages on its website, including those for universities, students studying in the EU, and EU students studying in England.



There’s been an increase in both the number of students supported and the amount of support provided by the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) for Scottish HE students in 18/19. Click to view the full statistical release.

In related news, the Scottish Funding Council has released data showing a small improvement in the percentage of university leavers going straight into work, from 95% in 16/17 to 95.4% the year after. The BBC covers the story.



There are two circulars of note from HEFCW this month, covering 19/20 allocations from the global challenges research fund, and the outcomes of the consultation on the distribution model and metrics for future Research Wales Innovation Fund (RWIF) funding.



UCEA is conducting a survey on DC schemes in the HE sector, with the aim of finding out more about the current extent and nature of DC scheme provision in HE. The deadline for completion is Friday 22 November.

Barnett Waddingham are running a webinar on the 12th November covering the results of the LGPS valuation and the implications of this for universities that participate in it. Click here for more information and to register.


Treasury and Credit Control

NewtonIM has produced a couple of very interesting reports on fossil fuel investments and ESG for charities. The first looks at how universities are tackling the fossil fuel investment debate, and includes case studies from colleagues at Oxford, St Andrews, and SOAS, while the second covers the results of its 2019 charities investment survey.

Our next BUFDG Credit Control Working Group meeting takes place on the 19th November at the University of Nottingham.  Please come along if you would like to discuss current issues, challenges or new ideas on income collection and management. It is free to attend and a good opportunity to develop your network with colleagues from other universities.

At the meeting we’ll also be talking about the content of our next BUFDG Credit Management Conference, which will take place on the 21st May 2020. Please save the date!  For any queries on either of these, please contact Rachel.



UMAL, EAUC, and other sector bodies have produced a report on Adapting Universities and Colleges to a Changing Climate. In short – there’s a lot of work to do.

Congratulations to Bangor though, which has made a brilliant start and now has an electricity supply that is 100% renewable.

Meanwhile, the government has made a splash with a £370million fund for 2,700 PhDs over the next 5 years across AI, bioscience, healthcare, and tackling climate change.



HEPA is holding a webinar to take attendees through the updated Benefits Methodology and Procurement Value Survey (PVS), on the 26th November. It’s hosted by Larissa Morrish, Head of Procurement at Lancaster University and is free to attend. It is aimed at anybody responsible for preparing elements of the PVS submission for their institution. 


Fraud and Risk

The Higher Education Risk Management group is holding its 6th annual gathering on 3rd December at the University of York. Sessions include how to embed a risk management strategy, risk and internationalisation, cyber risk management, risk appetite and more. To find out more and to book your place, please visit our website.

A number of universities have been hit by attempted procurement frauds, using fake university email addresses to procure goods in the university’s name that are then delivered to addresses elsewhere. Read about it on the discussion boards, along with what some HEIs are doing to mitigate the risks.

The OfS has published its guidance on reportable events including, among other things, for instances of fraud. It’s a weighty tome, on which each HEI will need to exercise its own judgement. An article on Wonkhe outlines what HEIs will need to be wary of.


Value for Money

Universities UK has produced a guide for institutions on presenting institutional financial information to students. In identifies three strands that institutions should include, a handy checklist, and an example statement, among other things. HEPI has welcomed the report, while Jim Dickinson at Wonkhe is more circumspect.

The UUK report arrived shortly after the OfS published its VfM strategy for 2019-2021, which confirmed that it’s “primary measure of value for money will be based on the perceptions of students and graduates”. HEPI has thoughts on this too.



Martin Scammell has recently updated his 'VAT on Construction, Land & Property' book with information about which party is able to make a claim for overpaid or underclaimed VAT under section 80, in circumstances where the supplier has overcharged VAT. Find out more on the BUFDG website.

In a disappointing response, HMRC has written to the Charity Tax Group to confirm the position that they believe that social media advertising does not qualify for the zero-rating relief for advertising. The CTG has more, including HMRC's letter, on their website here.

A reminder that we produce a fortnightly HE Tax newsletter. If you’d like to sign up, register for a make Tax or Payroll your primary interest on your BUFDG website account. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to register first. You can find the latest edition here.



BUFDG has launched a revised HE Common Roles document and the BUFDG Employment Status Tool. We hope that members will find these guidance tools useful when trying to determine if individuals are employed or self-employed or whether personal service companies should be treated as on or off payroll. If you have any queries regarding either of these tools, please send them to Amanda.

HMRC is running a webinar on off-payrolling working rules on the 21st November. It provides an update to the reform of off-payroll working rules from A‌pr‌il 2‌02‌0 for engagements with the public sector and medium and large sized organisations.



If you’d like to feel more confident and competent when presenting, then we have just the course for you. Presenting with Confidence and Impact is led by Kate Connolly, a top Communications Coach, on the 4th December at Loughborough. This event is open to all Higher Education Professional Staff who are members of AUDE, BUFDG, HEPA and UHR. If you have a query about whether you are eligible to book a place, please email Corinne. 

If you know anyone who wants to improve their understanding of finance in higher education and develop their financial management skills, then point them towards AdvanceHE’s Demystifying Finance workshop, on the 5th December in London.



UCEA has published its Higher Education Workforce report 2019. It’s a biennial analysis of data from UK HEIs which looks at recruitment and retention in the sector and a range of other workforce topics including contract trends, workforce demographics, apprenticeships and alternative staffing arrangements.

UUK has released the 2019 edition of it’s annual ‘Facts and Figures’ publication, which looks at all the interesting stats about HE students, staff, and finances.

The National Centre for Universities and Business has an excellent weekly bulletin on all things research funding and knowledge exchange. Staff at member institutions can sign up on the NCUB website. If your organisation is not a member, there’s a monthly bulletin which just has the most important bits.

There’s £29m of additional QR research funding coming down the pipe for English universities for research on evidence-based policy making. Details on the UKRI website.

It’s a mixed bag for transnational education, according to this year’s UUK report. More HEIs provide TNE than ever before, but a decline in student numbers at the three most popular providers has produced a 2% decrease overall.

Finally, if you have any comments or suggestions about the new Monthly Digest, or have anything that you want to see included next month, drop Matt an email.


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