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18th July 2018

Weekly Digest
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Value and value reporting - new website area Matt Sisson

The rise in tuition fees five years ago put more pressure on universities to show the value that they deliver for students. As the political debate around fees continues, it risks detracting from the discussion of the wider contribution that universities make to society.

Universities are working to address this and are finding new ways to get their important messages across. Over the last few years BUFDG has also been chipping in to help universities communicate their value. BUFDG’s contribution to the effort has included supporting finance directors to improve financial communication, assisting the development of value reporting (in particular the use of Integrated Reporting ), and developing our own educational materials.

We’ve now pulled all this work together on a new area of the website; Value and value reporting, under the ‘about’ section. It includes our new videos (see below), all our previous work on Integrated Reporting, and all the other connected news and resources. If you’re looking for any information on this work, you’ll probably find it there. And if you can’t, drop Matt an email.

Six BUFDG videos - Universities and Value Matt Sisson

On that note, you might remember that we’ve previously mentioned a series of videos that we were producing on the subject of universities and value. We’re pleased to be able to provide more information on these, and let you know that the first video is ready to view and share.

There are six videos in the series. They are each around five minutes long, and are intended as a communication resource, and also maybe a provocative one (although hopefully not too controversial!). We hope that, among other things, they’ll help the sector communicate to those beyond about what universities are, what they do, the challenges they face, and the thinking that goes behind some of the decisions that are made. The videos were produced by us and the creative company Electric Egg, and feature interviews with colleagues from across the sector.

The first video; “What are Universities?” is available now on the new ‘value’ area of the website (and below), and will be followed over the next six weeks by five more, titled:

  • University challenges
  • Universities and value
  • Universities and funding
  • Universities and investment
  • Universities and culture

Please feel free to share these widely if you think they will be useful. If you have any questions about the videos, or would like to embed them in your own sites, then drop Matt an email.

 

HMRC MTD Guidance Published Amanda Darley

HMRC issued guidance on Making Tax Digital (MTD) on 13 July. The Public Notice can be found here. Making Tax Digital will come into force on 1 April 2019, for VAT periods beginning on or after that date.

Now that this guidance has been published, we will shortly be providing a high-level MTD readiness questionnaire for universities to consider their existing processes and what gaps they have for MTD, as well as some further university guidance and FAQs on MTD.

Corporate interest restriction guidance from PwC Amanda Darley

PwC has provided us with guidance on how to calculate whether your university must apply the corporate interest restriction (CIR) rules, including a university gateway test, and practical next steps if a return must be submitted. If your university is affected by the rules, the return must be submitted by 31 July. The guidance can be found here.

Are you obliged to publish a Tax Strategy? Amanda Darley

Deloitte provided a session on tax governance and tax strategy at the recent tax conference, with some extremely useful input from Shona Blair of the University of Edinburgh. The University of Edinburgh is not legally obliged to publish a tax strategy, but interestingly it has taken the strategic decision to do so, given the size and complexity of the business. You are legally obliged to publish a tax strategy on a publicly accessible webpage if:

• Your university is incorporated via Companies House and your corporate group has a turnover of >£200m or assets of >£2bn; OR

• If the combined turnover of your subsidiary companies (excluding the university, if not incorporated via Companies House) is >£200m or the combined assets of your subsidiary companies are worth >£2bn.

You can find HMRC’s guidance on tax strategies here, which is helpful in setting out what they expect a strategy to include, albeit it is misleading in terms of who is obliged to publish one (failing to point out the Companies House criterion). A number of universities have already published their tax strategies - you can view the University of Edinburgh’s tax strategy here. The slides from the conference session are available here.

Should you have a published tax strategy even if not obliged to? That’s up to individual universities to decide, given their size, complexity, and general governance, but: “HMRC will expect any large organisation to be able to articulate how it manages its tax affairs.” (Deloitte). If you do have an obligation to publish a strategy, it must be published by 31 July.

The 'fiscal illusion' of student loans Matt Sisson

If you’re a regular follower of HE political shenanigans then you’ll be aware that the accounting status of student loans on the government books is under threat. In short, despite the ONS deciding last year that the government’s current treatment, which ensure the loans are never seen as a spending liability, is correct, this is now challenged on a number of fronts – not least from a revision by the ONS itself.

There’s a good round-up of where we’re at from Research Professional, and sector commentator Andrew McGettigan has written extensively on the subject, with an article based on his talk earlier this month to the Wonkhe/BUFDG ‘Proceed with Caution’ event due on his website later today.

What does this mean for universities? We can’t know for sure, but with any revision of the accounting treatment seen as additional public spending, a tightening of funding for the sector would seem increasingly likely.

The procurement event of the year Karel Thomas

The next big event in the BUFDG/HEPA agenda is the HEPA conference at Loughborough on 12th and 13th September. Emma has compiled a terrific agenda which includes Eddie Obeng, one of the most memorable speakers from the 2017 BUFDG conference. If you’re in procurement management and want to be educated, enthused, and energised, please be assured this is the conference for you. At £450 including VAT, to include overnight accommodation and a great programme, it is amazing value. If you have questions at all, get in touch with Emma.

Recent HMRC policy papers Michael Edwards

Members should note that, in the last week, HMRC have released a couple of policy papers relating to (1) the very welcome abolition of receipt-checking for benchmark scale rates and a tidying-up of the overseas scale rates regime (access here); and (2) an exemption from tax of employer-provided facilities for charging employees’ electric and hybrid vehicles (access here).

Please get in touch with me should you have any queries or comments with regard to these measures.

Category Management Course – Swansea Emma Keenan

We have available just 7 places on a new Category Management Course being run at the beautiful Swansea Bay Campus on 9th August.  The one-day training event will cover the key elements of Category Management including management of the supply chain, opportunity analysis, spend categorisation, market awareness, proficient supplier relationship management and excellent stakeholder relationships.  Also, an understanding of actual customer needs and how Category Management matches market knowledge with customer demand.  The course will include exercises and scenarios to embed the learning.

The course is intended for people who wish to understand and apply the tools, techniques and processes, either so that they can initiate Category Management within their organisation or work within an established system and contribute more fully to it.

By the end of the session you will be able to:

  • Understand the concept of Category Management
  • Appreciate the importance of Category Management as a procurement business tool
  • Understand the key elements and tools which are essential to making category management a success
  • Understand how to analyse and shape the market
  • Know how to successfully implement category management as a way of working in your organisation
  • Recognise the risks and the benefits of the application of Category Management.

 With so few places left, early booking is recommended.  Full details and booking information is available here  

Job of the Week Matt Sisson

Our Job of the Week is for a Strategic Finance Partner or Faculty Finance Partner at Lancaster University. The successful candidate “will be a fully qualified accountant and will be responsible for supporting allocated budget areas (primarily the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and Faculty of Health & Medicine)”.

The university is “ideally looking for a Strategic Finance Partner, with wide experience and achievement within financial roles, able to work strategically with a range of stakeholders, who understands the specific needs and challenges of the client area”. However, it is “also open to appointing someone as Faculty Finance Partner with the potential and ability to develop, with support, into the more senior role”.

There are further details on the Lancaster University website, and more vacancies elsewhere in the country on the BUFDG jobs page.  

 

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