22nd March 2023

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BUFDG Digest, Wednesday 22nd March Matt Sisson


Last week was the 2023 Finance Festival, and we welcomed over 1,200 members in total over the course of the 3 days, in 36 different plenaries and workshops, with 77 speakers. It was a fantastic event, and the feedback we’ve had from delegates has been very positive. If you attended and you’ve not completed your feedback form yet, then please do (check your email) – feedback is open until the end of this week.

For those who couldn’t attend – either at all, or just some of the sessions that you wanted to – recordings of all the sessions are now available to watch on the BUFDG website, using your website login. If you didn’t catch them first time around, why not find out more about the importance of good data visualisation, how to make (and demonstrate) progress towards net-zero, and how to tackle the financial recruitment challenge at your HEI.

We’d like to say a big thank you to all the speakers, chairs, and delegates who made the event so successful. If you have any additional thoughts, comments, or questions, please do get in touch with Matt.


The big news of the last fortnight was the Spring Budget, with significant implications for the sector. We’re grateful to Julia and Andrea for quickly producing BUFDG's summary of the Budget changes that are most relevant to universities or university subsidiaries. The full Spring Budget 2023 can be found on the government website and, as expected, there is a wide range of commentary available including from the IFS, and the team at Wonkhe.


We’ve just published the report of this year’s BUFDG Audit Survey. It is in a similar format to prior years, but without the qualitative analysis. We will do the qualitative analysis every other year, as it does mean the survey takes longer to complete, and the results are unlikely to change significantly in 12 months. The survey had 119 responses in total, so thank you very much to all those who contributed. The response rate of 65% of member HE institutions is the same as last year, and should ensure a representative picture of audit provision across the sector.  As always, if you have any questions, please do let Matt know.

The FRG’s annual Financial Statements webinars will take place on the 10th May and 15th May.  These workshops are free to attend and will be delivered by the Financial Reporting Group members, including both HEP representatives and audit firms. Both webinars will cover the same content, so you can choose the best date for you. The webinars will include: Auditor and HEPs best practice; Feedback from the 21/22 financial statement review; Feedback from funders and regulators; Environmental sustainability and carbon reporting, and; FRS 102 amendments. For any queries, please contact Rachel.



Following on from the October session on the Procurement Bill, members can join Uddalak Datta, Legal Director, Shakespeare Martineau, for an update on the latest developments as the Procurement Bill nears the end of its passage through the House of Commons. If you have any specific points that you would like the session to cover then please do let Ash know. The session will be delivered via Teams and will be recorded. Members can also re-watch the Cabinet Office session at last week’s Finance Festival, looking at this very topic.

The National Association of Construction Frameworks (NACF) has produced an interesting report gathering market intelligence from within the construction industry. Data is collected for 10 high level construction trades across 7 cities within the UK. This data is grouped into 5 regions: South, London, Wales, Midlands, and the North.

We covered the new Selection Questionnaire (SQ) in a HEPA article earlier this week. For reference you can find PPN 03/23 on here, including a copy of the new SQ itself. Burges Salmon have since produced an essential guide to the changes to the SQ which is well worth a read.  A key takeaway is that the changes come into effect from 1 April 2023! In light of this tight timescale and to help contracting authorities prepare, Burgess Salmon have produced another great resource answering the question “what changes are needed if updating your existing SQ?” – you can read the piece here, and of particular interest to members may be the redline comparing the old and new SQ.

From 1 April 2023, general government grants will be advertised on the Find a Grant service.  In the same way that all procurements have to be advertised on Find a Tender, the requirement to use Find a Grant is to make access to grants fairer for businesses, organisations and individuals seeking funding. Please contact the Cabinet Office if you want more information.

Public procurement compliance continues to be a risk area for universities and other education institutions which are subject to the rules. There have been a number of recent cases which will have a practical impact on how you go about your buying. In a forthcoming Time to Talk session, Hannah Chapelhow and David Hansom from international law firm Clyde & Co’s procurement team will be looking at the cases from an HE perspective and providing practical ideas to incorporate the impact into your purchasing. The session will be delivered via Teams and will be recorded, and members can book your free place here.



The Transfer Pricing team at Grant Thornton has prepared this checklist for members. It is aimed at members who are not familiar with Transfer Pricing to help determine what action you need to take. A more technical checklist is being prepared for members with a group turnover in excess of €750m, who will be impacted by 1 April 2023 changes.

We are thrilled once again to confirm that Vialto will host the BUFDG quarterly global mobility roundtables in April, in person! Vialto has added an additional location, which may be more efficient for some of you. Places are limited, so please do book quickly if you’d like to attend. If you have any agenda items that you would like Vialto to raise, please email Julia.

You may be aware that the Higher Education team within HMRC have begun reviewing ‘Employer Duties’ (employment taxes by another name) at around a dozen universities, and that reviews may be undertaken at more universities. We understand that all the reviews are at early stages and we will share areas of concern with the wider membership, with permission from those universities going through the reviews. A word of warning, although these are predominantly employment tax reviews, they may ask wider questions around, for example, subsidiaries. If you haven’t already reviewed your procedures and processes around taking on individuals and intermediaries outside of the payroll, now is the time to focus in. BUFDG have the resources to assist you with this.

The income tax rates and thresholds for Wales for the 2023/24 tax year have been approved by Parliament and remain aligned with those of England and Northern Ireland. Check the rates here.

HMRC have updated Beneficial loan arrangements — HMRC official rates guidance to include the official rates of interest up to 2023, for use on your end of year taxable benefits reporting requirements. Read this article to find answers to questions like: What is a beneficial loan? When is a beneficial loan taxable? And, How is the tax calculated?

Read this article for the latest news from BUFDG regarding the tax exemptions for stipends/bursaries/scholarships. Last week, representatives of the H E sector met with HMRC and a research organisation instructed by HMRC, to discuss HMRC’s current guidance on the use of the scholarship income exemption. We are now awaiting HMRC’s feedback from these meetings in terms of changes to their guidance. BUFDG will push for more H E focused guidance, along with changes to the how the exemptions are no longer fit for purpose.

And remember, you can read all the latest tax and employment taxes news from Andrea and Julia in the TaxHE newsletter.



BUFDG is hosting two in person events focused on treasury management.  The first event takes place in Edinburgh on the 8 June and the second is being held in London on the 27 June.  Both events are open to all HEPs, and delegates will hear from a range of speakers including from Barclays, Cazenove Capital, Insight Investment and Kingswood Institutional (links to all these companies are on the BUFDG Supporter pages). The full agenda will be added to the event pages in the next couple of weeks. The event is not being recorded and attendance will be in-person only. Tickets cost just £100 plus VAT and, for any queries on these events, please contact Rachel.

Introduction to HE for professional service staff is a free, one-day development event aimed at all professional services staff within their first year of working in HE, who need to grasp the complexities and political environment of HE, and the implications for operating and influencing effectively. The event takes place online on Wednesday 28 June 10.30-2.30pm and is open to all professional services staff. You can found out more and book through this link and, for any queries, please contact Rachel. 

We are holding four free to attend development sessions for our senior leaders. Each one has a different theme and takes place on-line with Claire Harvey MBE at Anatta. These events are not recorded to enable a supportive environment for discussion. Please come along and take some time out for your own development. The dates and sessions are: 20 March - Increasing your personal impact; 15 May - Develop your strategic leadership; 5 June – Managing change and uncertainty; 26 June – Overcoming resistance and challenge. For any queries, please contact Rachel.



Following our Open Banking Time to Talk webinars, we are pleased to share this guest blog from Lloyds Bank summarising the benefits of Open Banking in a Higher Education context. If you missed our two-part series of webinars you can access the recordings of 'An Introduction to Open Banking' and the particularly useful 'Implementing Open Banking'.

Barclays and We Fight Fraud (WFF) are running a webinar on Thursday 20 April 2023 at 10:00 on the subject of managing the risks of financial crime in the Education Sector. Attendees to the session will also hear from Dr Harding, a criminologist at Lancaster University, and Research and Education Director at WFF, who will share research on student vulnerabilities to becoming money mules. Members can book their place here.

For those who could not make it, we recently held (and recorded) a webinar with PHES colleagues on Workplace Management Systems/Building Management Systems. It featured panel members from University of Warwick, Staffordshire University and Cardiff University and explored questions such as: What makes a good IWMS/BMS? How do you go about selecting one? And how can an IWMS/BMS help save universities money on their energy costs? Discussions were interesting and covered the business case, resource requirements, budgeting, the concept of a 'digital twin' and much more.

The BBC has an article looking at the benefits of a new campus for the University of Cumbria in Barrow.

Finally, our Job of the Fortnight is for a Head of Strategic Financial Planning at Cardiff University. The successful candidate will be responsible for “leading and co-ordinating short and medium term financial planning and budgeting activities across the University; including the creation of top down and bottom up budgets; scenario planning and analysis; consolidation and reporting to internal boards and external stakeholders”. The deadline for applications is 31st March.

As usual, there are lots of other vacancies listed on the BUFDG jobs page.

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