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22nd July 2020

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BUFDG Digest - Wednesday 22nd July Matt Sisson



Given the rapidly changing world that we find ourselves in, BUFDG (and HEPA) will be undergoing significant changes over the next 12-24 months. We are becoming a more digitally focused organisation, and we will also be providing services in new and innovative ways.

However, we want to make sure that what we provide is what our members need, and that it’s provided in the right way. To do this well we need members to be involved in the process. Can you help?

We are looking for members to join a digital focus group to help with the digital transformation journey by responding to surveys and testing new ideas now and then. As well as the focus group, we hope to have a smaller group of people within that who will also be involved in occasional virtual meetings to discuss some of the plans and feedback in more depth.

Please consider helping with this project - it's open to anyone who works in finance in a BUFDG member institution! If that’s you, then please take this short survey to let us know (it only takes 2 minutes!).



News from UCAS shows that domestic applications to UK universities this year are at record levels, with 40.5% of all 18-year-olds applying before the 30th June deadline. For the first time, the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds applying has surpassed 25%. The number of applicants from outside the EU is also up 10%, although EU applications are 2% lower than this time last year. While the sector will be eagerly waiting to see whether how many of those with offers take up their places, the news is certainly encouraging. The Guardian covers the story.

On the flip-side, many in universities will have already read about the Government’s proposed restructuring regime for institutions struggling due to COVID-19. The team at Wonkhe have done a good job of outlining what it is, and how it works.



We are open for bookings for our digital 2020 Management Accountants Conference taking place on the 14th & 15th October.  We have some fantastic speakers lined up who will provide insight into the future challenges and opportunities for HE, and we will be hearing from those who have experienced significant change in other sectors. Of course, we will also have sessions delivered by your fellow members and peers as we know you always find these of particular benefit. Keep an eye out for further details in the next 2 months! You can view the event page for more details and bookings, and for any queries, please contact Rachel.

The TRAC Conference will also be taking place on-line this year from Monday 28th - Tuesday 29th September. As usual, the conference will include a mixture of plenary and breakout sessions and give delegates a thorough overview of the work of the TDG as well as the latest guidance on TRAC. We will also facilitate ways for you to network with fellow delegates throughout the conference. Tickets cost £75 (inclusive of VAT).  You can view the event page for more details and bookings, and we’ll add to this over the coming weeks. For any initial queries, please contact Rachel

A recording from Grant Thornton's Time to Talk session on Financial Modelling and Scenario Planning from 17 July is now available. The session covered some of the basics you should consider in relation to your financial model, and went on to look at some practical tips including how to make your implementing decisions from your modelling easier and more efficient. You can access the recording here.



BUFDG’s Financial Reporting Group (FRG) has published a bumper summer edition of its newsletter, to coincide for year-end of what has been a truly extraordinary year. The FRG, made up of BUFDG members, colleagues from the audit firms, and regulators has been working tirelessly on issues that affect HEIs in particular, and this newsletter explains and reflects much of that hard work. If you have any questions about anything contained in the newsletter, contact the FRG coordinator, Karen Newcombe.

In addition, we're pleased to be able to provide the Financial Reporting Group guidance on Covid Research Reporting as promised in the newsletter. This guidance is being issued to assist members with the financial reporting implications of the Coronavirus pandemic. It covers accounting for grants received through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and changes in research income and expenditure. If you have any questions about the above, please contact Karen.

The Accounts Directions for both Wales and Scotland have been published in the last fortnight. The download links are available on the respective discussion board posts for Wales here, and Scotland here, where you can also post questions or comments.



The latest Tax and Payroll Newsletter is available here.

Though we would have dearly loved to have welcomed you to the tax conference in person in June, that obviously wasn’t possible this year. So instead, we’re excited to invite you to our first ever virtual tax conference in October. We’ll be holding sessions over a three-day period from 6-8 October, and we’re looking forward to ‘seeing’ you there. All the information is in this news article, and if you've got any queries about the conference please contact Andrea or Julia.

HMRC has issued guidance on Declaring goods brought into Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2021. There is also updated guidance on Applying to use simplified declarations for imports; Making an import supplementary declaration; and Making an import declaration in your records. All have been updated to include how you can import standard goods into Great Britain from the EU between 1 January and 30 June 2021 (with flowcharts!), and use ‘entry in the declarant’s records’ without getting authorisation in advance and make a supplementary declaration 6 months later.  

The Chancellor announced on 8 July that he is introducing a temporary reduced VAT rate of 5% to the supplies of accommodation, eat-in and takeaway food and entrance to attractions, to support the hospitality and tourism industry.  He also announced the launch of the “Eat out to help out” scheme. We’ve produced a guide to all the changes (updated on 14th July) that will be helpful for universities who provide eat-in or take-out food to students, staff and visitors, or accommodation; Student Unions who operate bars or catering outlets; and Subsidiaries of universities who provide catering and accommodation. If you have any comments regarding this guidance please contact

BUFDG has now had a response from HMRC and from HMT answering the questions that were raised in its April 2020 letter. Unfortunately, HMT and HMRC have not granted any further concessions for the sector. If you have not already done so, it would be prudent to check the VAT treatment that you have applied (or will apply) to any COVID-19 related supplies of staff; supplies of goods (including donated goods); change of use of premises, such as accomodation or research buildiings; and supplies of services. You may also wish to consider if any accruals should be made in your 2020 annual accounts. HMT and HMRC are asking universities to contact HMRC if they think that they have any issues.



There’s still time to book onto tomorrow’s (Thursday 23rd) Time to Talk session covering updates to Part II of the Job Retention Scheme. We’re pleased to welcome back Caroline Jones from BDO to guide universities through the complex calculation process and letting us know what to do if mistakes have been made (and what those mistakes are likely to have been). Caroline and her team will also go through the recent ‘bonus’ scheme on the details known so far (waiting for further government guidance).  If you have any questions on JRS, calculations, eligibility, future actions or anything you would specifically like Caroline to cover, please email Julia.

There have been major changes in the way HMRC will expect the HE sector to report accommodation benefits, particularly from the 2020/21 tax year. There have been a number of changes over the last 18 months, and so BUFDG has been working closely with UCEA to provide members with an update of the rules from a tax and HR perspective, to help universities make decisions and decide on next steps. We will be running a Time to Talk session around September time, details TBC. If you have any questions about the above, contact Julia.

The provision of accommodation to employees is giving rise to several issues at the moment. In order to raise these issues with the Government, we are looking to produce different papers discussing the particular problems they cause within the HE sector.  BUFDG are seeking your help in providing evidence to the Government to establish principles across the sector, as well as individual examples where possible. At this stage, all we need is for you to fill out this very brief survey (2 mins max) to see the extent the two different areas impact HEIs.  The more responses we get, the more evidence we will have to make a compelling argument to HMRC to improve positions across the sector.

HMRC has published a new guidance page summarising the reliefs available for organisations supporting disabled individuals, for Customs and VAT purposes.  The guidance, accessed here, seems to draw together the different reliefs already available as a 'hub' - hopefully making it an easier experience for the taxpayer. 



Accessibility is a hugely important subject. Procurement teams have played a large part in driving the agenda forwards in universities in recent years, building upon the work of the University of Kent and SUPC with their Accessibility toolkit and Accessibility statement. With the introduction of WCAG2.1AA we are convening a group to explore next steps. The group is meeting on Tuesday 11 August at 15:00 virtually via Microsoft Teams. If you or a colleague would like to get involved, then please do get in touch with Ashley.

The HEPA Learning & Development Group has a workstream focused on below threshold procurement and demand management.  The group has shared some resources between its members and are looking to pull together a library of best practise.  Do you have any resources that you use in your own institution that you would be happy to share?  Please do get in touch if so.

Many thanks to Lee Harrington and Sinan Shihab from Hays for their insightful ‘time to talk’ session last week. They presented the findings of the CIPS & HAYS procurement salary guide, as well as looked at wat this means for future procurement skills. The slides from the session are available to download here.

Similarly, thanks to all BUFDG and HEPA members who joined Sam Hunt from Crown Commercial Service for the timely and important overview of Spend Analysis & Recovery. Sam’s slides are available to download here.



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