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VCEG have approved a new Expenses policy that will come into effect from 1st April 2017.
The new Expenses policy has been designed to ensure that the University is fairly reimbursing staff; it is not about reducing costs.
The current policy was last updated in 2012, is long-winded and unclear in parts. This has led to inconsistent practices across different areas of the University. The new policy document aims to address these issues.
Expenses are under the spotlight in many organisations. They can be the subject of Freedom of Information requests. At the core of the policy is a requirement for staff to be accountable for the claims they make and for staff to be able to demonstrate that their travel and accommodation choices represent the best value for money that can be obtained.
A separate document will set out the University’s policy on Hospitality, Entertaining and Gifts.
To view FAQ's please select here.
To ask any questions please log onto SID and on the enquiry menu select 'Staff Expenses ad Purchasing Cards' and then 'Expense Policy.'
2. Incurring and Claiming Expenses
- Purchasing Cards
- Expense Claims
- Business Travel
- Value for Money
- Rail & Coach Travel
- Sea travel
- Air Travel
- Motor Vehicles
- Hire cars
- Private vehicle rates
- University Lease vehicle rates
- Taxi travel
- UK accommodation rates
- Overseas accommodation rates
- UK subsistence
- Overseas subsistence
6. Other Business Expenses
- Relocation costs
- Professional membership subscriptions
- Eyes Tests
- Visas Reimbursement Scheme
- Passport costs
1.1. This policy sets out the rules for claiming travel, accommodation, subsistence and other expenses. A separate document sets out the University’s policy on Hospitality, Entertaining and Gifts.
1.2. This policy applies to all staff of the University, its subsidiary undertakings and any persons on University business.
1.3. If an external grant or research funder stipulates higher financial limits this University policy will take precedence. If external funders stipulate lower financial limits then the external funder requirements will take precedence as this will represent the maximum they are willing to reimburse.
1.4. The University is a charity, receives public funds and is subject to Freedom of Information requests. It is also subject to considerable external scrutiny from funders and their auditors. The purpose of this policy is to assist staff in helping them to comply with the University’s requirements, to understand what can and cannot be claimed for and what is considered reasonable. Compliance with the policy affords staff protection from unwarranted accusations as well as helping the University achieve its sustainable travel and value for money objectives.
1.5. The University will reimburse staff for expenses which they actually, necessarily and exclusively incur in the course of official University business:
- only costs which are incurred as part of the University’s business will be reimbursed;
- only actual costs incurred will be reimbursed;
- all claims for expenses should be made promptly, receipted and approved by line managers/budget holders
1.6. The University reserves the right to refuse reimbursement for any claim which does not conform to this policy. Finance Services (Operations) will review all claims that exceed mandatory or guideline amounts and refer those who persistently exceed guidelines to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The CFO may ask claimants for their justification and has the right to impose restrictions on current and future claims.
1.7. Staff are not expected to be out of pocket or fund University activity but they should expect to be held accountable for their expense claims, to justify and substantiate their claims and to adhere to the mandatory rules and advisory guidelines set out in this policy document.
1.8. Staff have a duty to ensure that University funds are applied appropriately and represent value for money.
1.9. Compliance with this policy will ensure that the member of staff, or the University, does not incur a tax or national insurance liability and that staff need not report expenses on their tax returns. Responsibility for compliance with this policy rests with members of staff making claims for the reimbursement of expenses and their approving line manager/budget holder.
1.10. This policy sets mandatory and guideline rules or financial limits:
- Mandatory rules or financial limits must be complied with;
- Guideline rules or financial limits set out reasonable levels of expenses. There may be circumstances where staff and the approving line manager or budget holder agree to operate outside these guidelines and in all such circumstances this must be subject to prior agreement with line manager/budget holder.
2.1 There are a number of ways in which business expenses can be incurred or claimed. This policy applies to all business expenses regardless of the method by which they are claimed or the source from which they are funded.
2.2 Purchasing cards are a convenient and cost effective way to procure goods and services, including travel and hotels. Purchasing cards are typically held by individual members of staff who are frequent travellers and/or who undertake procurement activities on behalf of a budget centre.
2.3 When Purchasing cards are used to procure travel, accommodation or subsistence related costs the mandatory and guideline rules and financial limits set out in this policy document apply. University contracts for travel and accommodation must be used unless they cannot reasonably satisfy your needs.
2.4 The University does not expect staff to be out of pocket as a result of undertaking University activity. However, there will be instances where this happens and where a Procurement card will not be accepted or the member of staff is not a card holder. In such instances staff should promptly reclaim their out of pocket expenses through the University’s expense claims system.
2.5 Claims should be made as soon as possible on completion of the travel/activity. Any claims submitted after 90 days after travel/activity will be declined for payment unless there are exceptional circumstances for the delay.
2.6 All receipts should be scanned, uploaded and attached to online expense claims. Missing receipts will delay payment of expenses and persistent claiming of expenses without receipts (where required and identified in this policy) may result in disciplinary action.
2.7 Staff should retain original receipts until the claim has been approved in case further verification is required.
2.8 Original receipts will need to be retained if it is a funder requirement, such as expenditure relating to EU funded projects.
2.9 In some circumstances staff travelling overseas may be granted a cash advance to fund business expenses. Typically this applies to countries that do not have a developed financial services infrastructure and that rely on cash to transact business.
2.10 Expenses funded from an advance are subject to the same terms of this policy as any other method of funding expenses.
3.1 The University’s Travel Policy addresses issues such as insurance, procurement and approved suppliers, risk management, sustainability and environmental issues. Staff intending to travel are encouraged to refer to this document ahead of making any travel arrangements.
3.2 The University will only reimburse the costs of necessary business travel. This is defined as travel from one workplace to another on University business, enabling staff to perform their work duties.
3.3 Payment for the cost of travel between home and the workplace (including week-ends) is only payable in exceptional circumstances when approved by the claimant’s line manager/budget holder on advice of the HR Business Partner. Approved home to work journeys are a taxable benefit so should be claimed via the Payroll system and not the Expenses system.
3.4 The University will not fund the costs of partners accompanying staff unless the partner is assuming an official University role, such as hosting official receptions, and line manager approval has been obtained prior to travel. If a member of staff wishes to extend an overseas visit into a holiday, and/or take family members with them, all non-University business costs must be borne in full by the member of staff.
3.5 Air miles and similar reward scheme benefits earned through official travel may be used to “purchase” enhanced facilities on University business travel such as seat or facility upgrades or to obtain access to facilities such as priority booking or departure lounges. They must not be used for personal benefit.
Value for Money
3.6 In planning and procuring their travel arrangements staff must ensure they achieve best value. Value for money may be achieved from the choice of service, time of travel, type of ticket and travel agent, and is generally maximised if travel arrangements are booked well ahead.
3.7 The University has established relationships with several approved suppliers and using these contracts for flights, train, ferry, car hire and hotel bookings should help to achieve ‘good value’. Details on contracted travel agents and suppliers can be found here: Travel
3.8 However, staff may use other arrangements to book their travel where they can demonstrate that this provides better value for money. Time spent searching and booking travel including the potential cost of cancellation should also be factored in when using non-approved arrangements.
Rail & Coach Travel
3.9 Travellers should book well in advance and wherever possible take advantage of saver or super-saver tickets.
3.10 Timed returns should always be booked unless it is not possible to estimate with certainty your time of return, in which case open-returns may be booked.
3.11 Travellers are expected to travel standard class, however first class travel may be booked where this is cheaper than published standard class fares for timed arrivals and departures (ie not open ended standard class returns) which can be the case depending on the date bookings are made.
3.12 Wi-Fi costs will be reimbursed if this is used for University business.
3.13 For crossings over 6 hours, standard cabin accommodation is permitted.
3.14 Staff are expected to fly economy class.
3.15 However, in certain circumstances it is permitted to fly in other classes based on the following guidelines:
|Flight Duration||Any Flight Duration||Over 4 Hours and up to 7 Hours||Over 7 Hours||Not Permitted|
|Class||Economy||Premium Economy||Business||First Class|
3.16 The circumstances that can apply to staff travelling other than economy class are:
- where there is a demanding work schedule eg. a short time between a flight landing and the commencement of University duties or where there are multiple flights over an extended period being taken;
- where a funding sponsor permits higher classes and will reimburse the full cost
- medical and/or disability grounds;
- where it is cheaper or the same price to fly at a higher grade, including first class
3.17 If circumstances warrant flying other than economy class the following apply:
- Any flight, other than economy class, requires the prior approval of the member of staff’s line manager/budget holder.
- First class is only permitted if the cost is fully reimbursed by an external funder or sponsor.
3.18 There is usually a premium for air travel extras if not booked in advance. Acceptable costs for air travel extras are seat reservation fees and baggage charges if booked in advance.
3.19 Unacceptable costs are Excess Baggage charges made at check in if these charges could have been avoided at the time of making the booking.
3.20 The following order of priority should be adhered to when travelling on official business by private vehicle: 1. Hire car and fuel and then 2. Private vehicle.
3.21 Staff will only be reimbursed expenses which they actually and necessarily incur in the course of official travel using their own vehicle. Mileage allowances are paid for the actual distance necessarily travelled, excluding the cost of home to work journeys.
3.22 To claim mileage a driver must be registered in the University’s Expense system, have completed a Safe Use of Private Vehicle for Business Use form and provided a copy of their current motor insurance to the budget holder. Motor insurance must be valid for business use. Budget holders should not authorise any mileage claims unless they have verified that claimant hold valid motor insurance that permits business use
3.23 Car parking charges, road and bridge tolls and congestion charges associated with business travel will be reimbursed.
3.24 Car parking charges for a member of staff normal work place, speeding fines, parking fines, congestion charge non-payment fines or any other penalties will not be reimbursed.
3.25 Bookings must be made using the University’s contracted suppliers. Personal mileage is not permitted. Class M or MPVs should only be hired to accommodate four or more people plus equipment and. Details are available from: Hire Car
3.26 Actual fuel costs incurred will be reimbursed only if receipts are provided. Drivers should comply with the car rental refuelling policy to ensure that the University does not incur a refuelling fee.
Private vehicle rates
3.27 Claimants using their private vehicle are paid a standard mileage rate based on limits set by HMRC. Current rates applicable are:
|Private Motor Car (Per daily journey)||1 - 100 Miles||45p|
|Private Motor Car (Per daily journey)||Over 100 Miles||25p|
|Passenger supplement||Per mile||5p|
3.28 When transporting colleagues to a business event in a private car, the vehicle owner may claim a passenger allowance. The same rate applies irrespective of the number of passengers.
University Lease vehicle rates
3.29 Claimants using University lease cars are paid a standard rate based on limits set by HMRC. Hybrid cars are treated as petrol cars for this purpose. Current rates applicable are:
|Lease Car Engine Size||Petrol (Per Mile)||LPG (Per Mile)||Diesel (Per Mile)|
|1400cc or less||11p||7p|
|1401cc - 2000cc||14p||9p|
|1600cc or less||8p|
|1601cc - 2000cc||10p|
3.30 Taxi fares may be claimed where no suitable public transport is available or when travelling in an unknown locality or where public transport is infrequent or where the saving in time is important.
3.31 Taxi fares may be reimbursed to or from home or from the office to home where the journey commences either before 6.30am or after 9.00pm and where alternative methods of public transport are not readily available. In exceptional cases taxis maybe used to travel home for welfare reasons and/or where there are issues of personal safety. Such cases require the prior approval of line managers/budget holders. Approved home to work journeys are a taxable benefit so should be claimed via Payroll and not the Expenses system.
3.32 Taxi fares should be recouped through an expense claim. Purchase orders are not required to book a taxi but may be appropriate when booking several taxis for an event and for VIPs.
3.33 Further guidance on using taxis for business purposes can be found here: Travel by taxi
4.1 Employees travelling on business should obtain accommodation in a reasonable quality hotel, taking into account value for money, location convenience and health and safety.
4.2 Hotel accommodation varies per location and is demand-driven and typically best rates are obtained when booking well in advance of stays. For University contracted hotel rates refer here: Hotels
4.3 Accommodation provided within five miles of a member of staff’s permanent workplace will qualify as a taxable benefit. Claims for reimbursement for such accommodation must be processed through payroll.
4.4 Allowable hotel expenses include: telephone calls home (provided these are not excessive), car parking, Wi-Fi (if used for business purposes), laundry (if staying for 5 or more consecutive nights).
4.5 Non-allowable hotel expenses that cannot be claimed for include: pay-as-you-go TV/videos/games, leisure facilities, mini-bar drinks and snacks, newspapers.
UK accommodation rates
4.6 Guideline accommodation rates are provided below. In exceptional circumstances these may be exceeded provided the prior approval line manager/budget holder is obtained and both the member of staff and the approving line manager/budget holder consider that circumstances warrant the incurrence of higher costs (such as reasons of personal safety, convenience of location to event/meeting, inability to procure cheaper accommodation):
|Overnight Rates (Including Breakfast)||London||Rest of the UK|
|Staying with Friends and Family||£25.00||£25.00|
|Standard Rate (Inc. VAT)||£180.00 Or London Paddington||£125.00|
4.7 Staying with friends/family: an overnight accommodation allowance of £25 without needing receipts can be claimed if staying with family or friends. This allowance includes a contribution to the cost of an evening meal, breakfast and incidental overnight expenses.
4.8 London Paddington: in the event that a member of staff travels to London for a meeting/event the following day then a room at, or close to, London Paddington station maybe booked which may exceed the London standard rate.
Overseas accommodation rates
4.9 HMRC provide benchmark scale rate expenses payments for accommodation. This publication should be referred to as a guide of what room costs are expected prior to booking: HMRC Worldwide Subsistence Rates
5.1 Subsistence costs covering breakfast, lunch and dinner, incurred whilst away from the University should be claimed based on the following limits:
|Subsistence: Period of Abscence||Limit|
|Over 6 hours but less than 9 hours||£10|
|Over 9 hours||£40|
5.2 These limits cover breakfast, lunch and dinner. Claims for teas, coffees and light refreshments that do not accompany breakfast, lunch or dinner are not permissible.
5.3 The University covers all its campuses (Streatham, Penryn, St Lukes, Truro, Wonford). Subsistence cannot be claimed when attending meetings or events at University campuses unless you are required to stay overnight when the subsistence limit for ‘over 9 hours’ set out in the table above applies.
5.4 Only actual subsistence costs incurred will be reimbursed. Receipts must be provided for.
5.5 For overseas breakfast and dinner rates see the HMRC guideline amounts see: HMRC Worldwide Subsistence Rates
6.1 Details of the University’s relocation scheme are available here: Relocation Scheme
Professional membership subscriptions
6.2 Personal membership subscriptions to professional bodies will not be paid where membership of a professional body is a normal expectation of the individual and role e.g. Finance professionals may be expected to be a member of an accountancy body so these costs will not be reimbursed. Individuals are normally entitled to obtain tax relief on professional subscriptions they fund themselves provided the professional body is on HMRCs qualifying list: HMRC qualifying professional bodies.
6.3 Subscriptions that are ex efficio, ie associated with a role rather than an individual, will be paid.
6.4 If subscriptions give access to discounted facilities, conference fees etc, authorising line managers/budget holders may permit their reimbursement on grounds of value for money.
6.5 The costs of eye tests are not reimbursable. The University provides free eye tests to staff that use Display Screen Equipment (DSE) on a regular basis; this is carried out through a voucher scheme in partnership with Specsavers Opticians.
6.6 For further information on how to obtain a voucher for a free eye test: Eye sight tests
Visas Reimbursement Scheme
1.6 The University has a visa reimbursement scheme for staff that joined the University. See visa reimbursement scheme
6.7 For existing members of staff visa reimbursement expenses are a taxable benefit and claims should be made via the Payroll and not expenses system. For new members of staff visa expenses are part of the tax-free relocation allowance.
6.8 Costs of passport applications and renewals will not be reimbursed.