Can an exception to the 5 mile rule be made?

QUESTION:

We have been asked to use the Potters Club more.
It is an excellent environment for quiet meetings with business clients, especially those new to the potteries.
Can an exception (to the 5 mile rule) be made so that we may expense business coffees / lunches (within the specified limits) at the Potters Club?
This would not be to the exclusion of our excellent catering on campus, but provide a complementary additional option.

ANSWER:

Thank you for getting in touch. Your query appears to make reference to two separate sections of the Travel Policy.

Wherever possible, colleagues who are entertaining external clients should use the University’s catering services as their first choice.

The 5 mile rule applies only when staff are claiming for the cost of their own meals, if they are away from the University’s sites on University business.

More information about the Travel Policy can be viewed on the Finance website.

Why are approved suppliers not being utilised to achieve savings?

QUESTION:

In line with much of the university, my department has had its expenses budget drastically slashed (as I thought, in order to save money). Please can you therefore explain how it is possible that an external visitor has been advised by another department to book his own hotel (which happens to be one of the University’s official supplier hotels) at a cost of £40 more than our corporate cost (then claim this back), as there are not sufficient resources within the department to book this at the cheaper rate. Surely if this happening for just one visitor, then how much money is being ‘wasted’ in this way – and what is the point of making arrangements with ‘approved suppliers’ ie to take advantage of corporate rates, if these are not being utilised.

It is incredulous that we are ‘penny pinching’ on basic things and literally pouring money away in other areas where savings can clearly be made.

ANSWER:

All Faculties and Departments are responsible for managing their budgets and ensuring value for money is obtained. We all have a part to play in this and should remind colleagues of the proper process if we become aware of activities which are not achieving this.

Any specific examples (such as the one being referred to) should be brought to the attention of the Commercial Accounts Team who will follow them up in in their regular meetings with all Faculties and Departments.

Thank you.

Did executive accept a performance related pay bonus?

QUESTION:
The UCU Exec Cttee would like to ask the following question in light of the ongoing pay dispute in HE and the upcoming industrial action. A quick answer would be appreciated.

On Exec QT the VC made clear he had taken only a 1% rise in pay, but the rest of Executive did not clarify their position on the 1% pay rise . The VC said that he had been offered performance related pay but had insisted on declining it.

Do other members of Exec get Performance Related pay / bonuses?
Have they accepted their PRP/bonus (unlike the VC)?
What percentage of their salary did they get as PRP/bonuses?
Do other senior managers such as Deans and Directors also get PRP/bonuses?
If yes, what percentage of their salaries did they get as PRP/bonuses?

 

ANSWER:
Thank you for the question. As many staff will already be aware, as Vice Chancellor I receive both a salary and a performance related pay element. Earlier this year the Remuneration Committee of the Board of Governors, as part of the annual salary review process of my role, sought to increase the level of pay. This they did, but in conversations with them I declined to accept the pay increase. Recently, the Remuneration Committee has considered my performance against a range of pre agreed targets and a performance related payment has been determined. This I have accepted, as it is a one off payment that does not add to the University salary bill like an increase in salary would. The performance related pay for my role is a maximum of 10% of salary – which is a maximum available – not the amount I receive.

Other members of Executive had historically not received any pay award for some years. This has now been addressed under my leadership. Last year it was agreed by the Board of Governors that the PRP scheme would be extended to them but at a lesser amount of a maximum of 5% of salary, against the achievement of pre agreed objectives. This was first put into operation for the academic year 2012- 13, with payments recently being made – none of these were at the maximum. The executive roles will also have the 1% cost of living pay award with effect from 1st December 2013, not 1st August 2013 as all other staff.

 

When will December pay day be?

QUESTION:
Hello

Please could you confirm the date of pay-day in December. Will it be the 18th Dec (the last working Wednesday of the month) or some other date (which reduces the day time gap between December and January pay days)?

Thanks

 
ANSWER:
Staff would normally be paid on the last Wednesday of the month, however, as this would fall on Christmas Day itself, the University has decided to bring this forward to Friday 20 December.

Will i-Expenses be evaluated?

QUESTION:
The new i-expenses is very complicated and time consuming (for overseas claims it is taking hours to complete). The various guides in themselves are lengthy and complex, some of the buttons/ options do not work and the system is not at all intuitive. Is there going to be any evaluation of the system?

 
ANSWER:
i-Expenses was introduced in July and is being supported with user guides in addition to face to face training. As with any new system, there is an element of getting used to the system and learning ‘shortcuts’ to simplify the process. These include the ability to duplicate lines and attach bulk volumes of receipts. Financial Services are happy to individually train staff on the entry of more complicated claims and can be contacted through James Bennett on x3358. Finance are unaware of any buttons/options that do not work and would ask that such occurrences are reported to Helen Holt on x3542.

With regards to evaluation of i-expenses, this is planned towards the end of the year when users have had sufficient time to become familiar with the key functions.

Why must we completely spend our budget each year?

QUESTION:
Why is there an impetus at the end of the budget year to spend the remainder of any such budget? Why can’t budget holders just give back, or get the difference added to next year’s budget, or get a bonus on next year’s budget for coming in under budget? Perhaps the way in which we spend budgetary money should come under a review?

 

ANSWER:
Departments should manage their expenditure in accordance with operational needs and budgetary constraints. This is monitored through the monthly finance returns and also quarterly business reviews.
They are expected to surrender budgets where they are surplus to needs and make a case for expenditure in excess of budget where necessary. Savings can then be used to fund additional expenditure where justified.
Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to generate income and manage our costs to create sufficient surpluses to enable the University to invest for the future.

*This is a question that unfortunately we did not have time for during the last Executive Question Time Event.

Why can’t staff claim for taking passengers on business journeys?

QUESTION:
Please advise why we cannot claim for taking passengers on journeys!
In the light of the limited parking at this years’ graduation ceremony I thought it would help by offering to take colleagues (and thus going out of my way to get them back to RSH at the end of the day) assuming there would be some allowance for the additional impact having 4 passengers has on the function & fuel consumption of my vehicle.

Apparently this is not the case –is there no incentive to car share – surely this fails to meet the ‘green’ ideals!

Won’t be offering again! We will take 5 cars next time – at what cost to the university.

 
ANSWER:
The mileage rates payable are intended to cover the costs incurred by the member of staff in using their own vehicle. Where additional mileage is incurred in picking up or dropping off passengers associated with business travel, then the additional mileage is claimable at the applicable rate.

Will expenses rates be changed in light of the new HMRC mileage rates?

QUESTION:

With the cost of motoring constantly going up and with HMRC raising the approved mileage rates from 40p per mile, up to 45p per mile (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/rates/travel.htm) why haven’t the University followed suit and increased their own rate to 45p?

I think it is unfair for University staff to end up out of pocket for travelling which they are forced to do to carry out their job.

 

ANSWER:

The HM Revenues and Customs outlines a rate for which mileage may be reimbursed, to a maximum before tax would be due. This  has recently increased from 40 pence per mile to 45 pence per mile.  This is not a recommendation for organisations, merely a stated amount before tax would be due.

The University is currently reviewing the expenses rates within our regulations to ensure they are appropriate. This review will be shared with the unions and following their views will progress to Executive to discuss and finally approval.

Mileage rates will be looked at as part of this process.

 

Why is the TAS form sent at the end of the week?

Question:

Please could you tell me why the TAS form is e-mailed to me at the end of the week that it is needed for? 

Why not at the beginning of the week or even the week before, it is needed for, so that I can keep an eye on what jobs etc I am doing?

Answer:

As a general rule the TAS emails are sent out each Monday for the very reason that people can use the diary aide attached to keep a track of their hours. The only exception to this would be if the member of staff responsible for generating the emails was on leave. In this scenario the emails would be sent out on the Friday before the period concerned.
 
The only other exception to this rule would have occurred over the Christmas period.

The TAS system is a fully automated system that works on a series of prompts and reminders. If you fail to respond to the initial request to fill out your TAS return you will receive an email to remind you to return it.

Failure to respond to this will result in another reminder being sent. Repeatedly failing to respond will result in business managers and deans being notified. I enjoyed an extended break over the Christmas period which meant that I was not able to send the emails on Monday 27 December or Monday 3 January.

To avoid people being sent reminders without having had sufficient time to return their forms, the emails sent out were staggered over other days. These have now been processed so we are back to the general rule of emails being generated on a Monday.

With rises in petrol prices will the travel claim amount be raised?

Question:

With the recent rises in petrol prices will the university be reviewing the current 40p per mile we claim back, as this is to pay towards wear and tear on vehicles as well?

Answer:

In the current climate the University will not be considering an upward increase in the mileage rate staff are able to claim back for travel, however this may be reviewed in the future.