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17th October 2018

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Celebrations help keep culture free Karel Thomas

The Science Museum was the venue of choice for two recent sector celebrations - JISC's 25th anniversary and LUPC's 50th anniversary. JISC is an amazing success story and offers the FE and HE sectors facilities that are the envy of many other sectors of the economy and other HE sectors across the world. If you are new to the sector, or would just like to remind yourself what they do, their website is full of information and you can find out who your account manager is here. LUPC is one of six, very successful, general procurement consortia in HE - more details on the HEPA website. Museums are increasingly popular for corporate events and this activity offers them a way of keeping entrance free to permanent exhibitions, but it's not that simple - tax comes into the equation. For those universities with museums and galleries considering the new corporation tax relief, HMRC issued guidance on how to calculate and claim the relief, which can be found here on the website. The Charity Tax Group also published a short article putting it all in context.

Be proud and tell a great story Karel Thomas

“Making strong criticisms of our own sector without proposing matching solutions is a risky business: if we give policymakers a warped or exaggerated impression of the challenges universities face, we may find institutions end up with less autonomy.” This is the last sentence in Nick Hillman’s latest blog on the HEPI website and there are many who would agree with him. In a similar vein, institutions might be careful what they wish for as they rue the absence of OfS for guidance on how to report value and value for money. There is a wealth of research, comment and opinion on what “value” and “value for money” mean, examples of good practice in corporate reporting and customer communications are all around us, and universities are full of clever, insightful and erudite people with excellent communication skills. This year, universities [in England] have an opportunity to report what, and how, they want to and they should seize it enthusiastically. You never know, the OfS just might like it.

AUDE annual EMR published Cheryl Pick

The AUDE Estates Management Report has been published, allowing universities to benchmark themselves against each other and comparisons to be drawn with similar institutions – whether by size or research/teaching focus. It highlights many of the big themes that universities and estates teams are considering in 2018. These include: student experience, from learning spaces to residential accommodation through student wellbeing provision; quality vs cost within a framework of compliance – the daily juggling act for AUDE members at a time of continuing downward pressure on costs; and the role of the estate as a physical environment - in staff attraction and retention at a time of increasing international competition. Jane White, AUDE’s Executive Director, commented: “The EMR gives the sector hard facts and accurate data at a time of real uncertainty. It provides the information background to help the sector make strategic decisions in estates management. This year’s report makes it clear that the performance of the university estate is as strong as it has ever been, and we should recognise and acknowledge the immense efforts of AUDE member teams across the country in delivering that.”

Awards season gathers pace Karel Thomas

There is rarely a closed season for awards, and those in the finance industry are no exception. Last week at Manchester Cathedral, Julie Charge (Salford) was honoured with Highly Commended in the Robert Walters FD of the year awards and in a couple of weeks’ time David Fletcher (LIPA) and Duncan Preston (LSTM) will be brushing off their dinner jackets for an event at the Liverpool Hilton. Last month at the Accountancy Age awards, the University of Exeter won Innovation & Transformation of the Year - Accountants in Industry, and Phil McNaull was presented with the CFO/FD of the year award, which added to the THELMA for Outstanding Financial Performance made it a good year for Edinburgh. Friends of BUFDG at Trinity College Dublin won Finance Team of the Year at the same ceremony. The Green Gown Awards are the next HE sector awards on 8th November in York and Emma, who was one of the judges, assures us there are some amazing achievements to be revealed. If you have been shortlisted for, or won an award, please let us know so that we can tell even more people that HE Finance is a great place to work.

Life after Brexit Karel Thomas

Many people and organisations are wondering what life as a former member of the EU will be like. Articles about investment freezes by car manufacturers and drug companies and moves to mainland Europe by banks are bread and butter for journalists, and every organisation in the country is thinking about the likely effects of Brexit, even if they are not doing anything. The FT published Sheffield research labs look to power UK manufacturing after Brexit this week, but watch out for the cautious sub-heading, and take note of Simon Kuper’s warnings of The great Anglo-American brain drain.

Here in the PHES office we have been gathering sources of information that EDs, FDs, HRDs, Heads of Procurement and Strategic Planners will find useful and to make the most of our joined up websites and your thinking, this collection will appear on all our websites with a link to a Brexit discussion board. AUDE colleagues have already started a topic which could start off the shared board and this is a piece we wrote for the BUFDG news section last week – click on the link below it to start a discussion now. There is no shortage of comment about university life after Brexit, from HEPI, UUK and Wonkhe and many others, which is all very well, but until we know whether it’s deal or no deal, some of the speculation only helps agitate thoughts. Decisions are a way off yet.

How might Brexit affect your energy costs? Matt Sisson

If one of the things that you lie awake at night worrying about is the price of energy after Brexit, then the sector’s energy consortium TEC can help you out. They have written a handy article this week that looks at the impact of Brexit on wholesale energy prices, as well as the impact on the carbon markets, energy policy, and other non-energy charges. And if that wasn’t enough, you’ll also learn what the word “backwardated” means.

Read it all here.

MTD deferred for some organisations until October 2019 Amanda Darley

EY has alerted us to an update in HMRC’s Overview of Making Tax Digital document here, published on 16 October, which sets out a new timeline with implementation of MTD delayed for ‘a small minority of VAT-registered businesses with more complex requirements’. MTD will be deferred until October 2019 for ‘trusts, ‘not for profit’ organisations that are not set up as a company, VAT divisions, VAT groups, those public sector entities required to provide additional information on their VAT return (Government departments, NHS Trusts), local authorities, public corporations, traders based overseas, those required to make payments on account and annual accounting scheme users.’ (My emphasis).

There are several categories above that universities could fall into, although we need to clarify what ‘set up as a company’ means specifically (whether it means incorporated via Companies House, which only applies to a few universities, or whether it just means incorporated, which all universities are). However, many universities are in VAT groups so would benefit from deferral that way anyway. However, any separately VAT registered subsidiary companies are unlikely to fall into any of the categories listed, so they will still  be required to comply with MTD from April 2019. We will provide more information on the deferral once we have it.

Free White paper - Steel Tariffs Emma Keenan

The US Government’s decision to place 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports has created a great deal of uncertainty throughout the global economy.   With the International Monetary Fund predicting the measures could reduce global growth by 1.9% from 3.9% in 2019, companies across the world are scrambling to understand how their operations might be affected. 

Achilles have mined their extensive store of supply chain data to track the potential direct and indirect impacts of tariffs on companies operating across industries and have shared with us an excellent whitepaper detailing their findings.

If you have any questions, do get in touch.

All autumn tax group meetings open for booking Amanda Darley

All regions have now arranged the dates and venues for the autumn tax group meetings. Details of the meetings, including booking links, can be found below:

All regional PEG meetings now available Caroline Jones

The date for the South reagion autumn regional Payroll & Expenses Group meeting, hosted by KPMG, has now been arranged and a booking page added to our website. The dates and venues for all the PEG meetings can be found below, including links for booking:

PwC Managing Risks in Higher Education Seminar Caroline Jones

PwC will be holding a 'Managing Risks in the Higher Education Sector' seminar at their Edinburgh office on 26 October from 10.30am to 1.30pm, followed by a networking lunch.

The seminar will focus on some of the key risk themes impacting the sector following PwC’s review of 37 HEIs' risk registers earlier this year, and will include some practical tips for addressing these issues. Topics will include:

  • Government Policy and Political Landscape - What to look out for in the short to medium term?
  • Internationalisation - What are the key things you need to consider when expanding overseas?
  • Employment Tax Audits - How prepared is your institution?
  • Making Tax Digital (MTD) - How will you ensure compliance by 6 April 2019?
  • Cyber Security and GDPR - Protecting your data and your reputation

 Further information and booking details can be found here.

VAT and independent HE providers Amanda Darley

An update from EY states that the OfS has communicated an imminent VAT law change with respect to education providers registered with the OfS in the Approved (fee cap) category. The details to be announced by Treasury will be released in the near future, probably at the Autumn Budget (29 October).  Relevant providers will be eligible for the same VAT exemptions as currently apply to traditional universities and providers eligible for public funding from the OfS. The changes are expected to take place with effect from 1 August 2019.

This change is not expected to affect ‘traditional’ universities, as HE providers with University title or College of University status should be unaffected by the changes. For more details see our full news article here.

Ratings revaluation project update for October Matt Sisson

The latest update from the joint UUK/AUDE/BUFDG ratings revaluations project is now available to download from the website. As of May 2018, AUDE has taken over from UUK as the organisation managing the remainder of the project. If you have any questions, please contact Jane White, Executive Director of AUDE.

The update highlights the reductions in cost rates achieved by the project so far, the status of the latest proposal for an alternative depreciation model, and the process and timescales for concluding the negotiations, expected inside the next six months. It also sets out the next steps to take for institutions in both England and Wales.

Job of the week Jemma Ladkin

This week’s job of the week is as an Assistant Finance Director at the University of Sunderland.

“The University are seeking to appoint an Assistant Finance Director (Reporting) to work alongside the Director of Finance, Deputy Director of Finance (Planning) and Financial Controller as part of the Finance Department’s Senior Management Team that will deliver a high quality, customer focussed finance service that is integral to supporting the University in delivering its strategic priorities”.

“The post holder will be a full member of one of the main professional accounting bodies and have excellent business partnering, accounting and financial reporting skills. You will be a strong leader with experience gained working in a senior finance role in a large and complex organisation, and of reporting and influencing at Executive and Board level”.

Closing date for this role; 4th November 2018

There are lots of other vacancies listed as usual on the BUFDG website.


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