7. Non-Pay Expenditure Approval Process

7.1 General principles

Every member of staff authorised to incur expenditure shall ensure that adequate records are maintained to control and monitor expenditure against approved limits, and shall seek to achieve value for money in all cases.

FBA shall investigate any instances of unauthorised over-expenditure on a regular basis and agree, with the relevant Head of Department, action to rectify the situation, which may include the virement of other departmental funds.

Each Head of Department shall promptly notify the Director of Finance and Business Affairs of any matter involving a significant resource commitment, or potential commitment, including any proposal which has material financial implications, to ensure that such matters comply with recognised accounting policies, procedures, and planning requirements, and that necessary Committee approvals have been obtained.

FBA may approve arrangements for ordering goods and services by way of a purchasing card and settling the debt by automatic bank debit.

No member of staff shall prepare or complete an invoice on behalf of a supplier. In
exceptional circumstances, staff may request the permission of FBA to invoice UCL
personally.

7.2 Authorisation Levels

Authorisation levels are approved by Finance Committee and are documented in the
Delegated Authorisation Limits. Staff who are authorised signatories may incur expenditure up to their approved limit, provided there is sufficient budget in the account which is to be charged. Expenditure should not be incurred which would take an account into deficit or make a grant overspent without prior approval from FBA.

7.3 Supplier selection

When obtaining goods, services or equipment, the following limits apply in respect of quotations or tenders. The formal tendering procedures, as laid down by Procurement Services should be followed, where appropriate. Distinct procedures apply in relation to capital projects and related services and supplies.

Financial Regulations, Procurement Limits



* These values include Vat; however the Public Procurement Regulations thresholds are exclusive of VAT. These figures refer to the total order value. Like items should be aggregated together in order to obtain best value from the supplier. It is not permitted for orders to be subdivided into smaller amounts in order to avoid the appropriate procedures.

** The Public Procurement Regulations thresholds are applicable from January 2016 and are generally reviewed every two years.

All tenders should be obtained in writing, held securely and opened at the same time. In addition, whole life costing procedures should also be applied as part of the evaluation processes, where appropriate.  The following are exceptions for the need to obtain competitive quotations:

  • there is already a formal agreement in place arranged or promoted by UCL Procurement Services or the company selected is a UCL contracted supplier
  • the supply is of such a specialised nature that obtaining competitive quotations/tenders is inappropriate, and the Head of Department keeps a written record to justify this view. In all instances where the expected expenditure is in excess of £50,000, all requests for waiver of competitive tenders MUST receive prior approval from the Director of Procurement – please submit any request using the Single Source Justification Form (word).
  • the supply is to be financed by an external source which has imposed alternative arrangements and these are clearly identified, or
  • a tender process has already taken place to select an approved supplier or group of suppliers, and UCL is named as a likely participant in any resulting contract or framework agreement.


In all circumstances where the external purchase of goods, services or equipment is over £50,000 the appropriate “over £50k checklist” form must be completed and attached to the requisition in MyFinance for approval.  Where a competitive tender has not been completed, the approved Single Source Justification Form (word) from the Director of Procurement should also be attached.

In cases where a formal contract has to be signed, the appropriate authorised signatory can sign this, according to their authorised financial limit.

The Director of Finance and Business Affairs shall arrange to review, at intervals not exceeding five years, the provision of the following services: banking, insurance, external and internal audit and investment management.

7.4 Conflict of interest

It is a requirement for members of staff to disclose any personal, financial or other beneficial interest with a proposed supplier in line with UCL’s Declaration of Interest Policy.  They should ensure that their actions when dealing with these parties are at arms’ length and could not give rise to any questions of bias.  Where necessary, they should make Procurement aware and withdraw from the purchasing process, allowing non-conflicted staff to make the purchasing decision.

7.5 Purchase orders

A purchase order should be raised on UCL’s financial system and appropriately approved before goods or services are purchased. 

7.6 Purchasing cards

Purchasing cards may be used for low value purchases where it would not be efficient to raise a purchase order or where a purchase order cannot be used.  All use should be in line with the Purchasing Card Policy.

7.7 Receipt of goods and services

All goods should be received at designated addresses. They should be checked for completeness, quality and specification. The person certifying that goods or services are satisfactory should be different from the person who placed the order.  Goods or services should be receipted on UCL’s financial system before payment can be made.

7.8 Payment

7.8.1 Payment of invoices

Payment of invoices is managed by Accounts Payable.  No invoice will be paid unless it has been matched to a purchase order and receipted on UCL’s financial system.  Invoices should be sent directly to Accounts Payable and not to departments.  UK suppliers should be paid via BACS and international suppliers should be paid via an automated overseas currency payment routing.

UCL’s standard payments terms are 30 days from the date of invoice. Failure to pay on time may jeopardise UCL’s credit facilities, damage its reputation and leave it vulnerable to legal action.  It is budget holders’ responsibility to ensure that purchase orders are raised and receipted on a timely basis to ensure that invoices can be paid on time.

7.8.2 Payment in advance

It is recommended that payment before delivery of goods or services is avoided. However, where such advance payments are customary because of the nature of goods or services to be supplied, purchasers should ensure that appropriate guarantees are provided by the supplier. In the case of large payments, a bank guarantee should be obtained.  Where this is not possible, approval should be obtained from the Director, Procurement before monies are transferred.

7.8.3 Reimbursement of expenses

Staff personal expense claims must be presented for reimbursement within three months of the expenditure being incurred and will be reimbursed via BACS to the nominated bank account.  All staff should adhere to the UCL Expenses Policy and claims should be made through the iexpenses module of UCL’s financial system.

All claims for reimbursement of expenses, incurred by an individual in the course of UCL related business, must be supported by official receipts or some other valid form of supporting documentation, including VAT where appropriate, providing details of the purpose of expenditure.

7.8.4 Research Subject Payments Cash Floats

FBA shall maintain an imprest account of such amount as may be required for making departmental research subject cash payments.

FBA may provide Heads of Departments with a research subject payments cash float, for the purpose of making payments to subjects on departmental research activity. FBA will determine float values. A receipt shall be signed in respect of each float advanced to the member of staff concerned (the float holder), who shall be held responsible to account for, and arrange safe custody, of the float.

Heads of Department shall ensure that adequate security arrangements are in place to hold research subject payments cash floats. Maintenance and operation of the research subject payments cash float shall be in accordance with procedures laid down by FBA and failure to comply may result in the facility being withdrawn.

Under no circumstances must research subject payments cash float be used to reimburse personal expenditure, payments of wages or salaries, temporary loans to staff or students, or to cash cheques.

Vouchers or receipts for research subjects’ cash disbursements shall be obtained, carefully preserved, and taken to the Financial Services Office with the research subjects cash float Reimbursement Form, duly reconciled and authorised by an authorised signatory.  These arrangements may be varied by specific agreement with FBA (Treasury).

No individual payment out of a research subject payments cash float shall exceed the amount, set by FBA, from time to time.

7.9 Approval for Capital Projects and Long Term Maintenance

Expenditure on Estates capital projects and long term maintenance shall only be incurred by the Estates division and the Estates Capital Project Approval Policy (pdf) should be adhered to.  The Estates tendering procedure shall be followed and approval shall be in line with the delegated authorisation limits for Estates staff.  Contracts will be retained in accordance with Estates contract filing procedures.

The Director of Estates shall present a progress report on all current capital projects to each meeting of Finance Committee, including a final report in respect of completed projects.

The Director of Estates shall ensure that suitable arrangements are in place to secure custody of all deeds and agreements relating to land and buildings owned or leased to or by UCL.

No charge shall be applied against any assets of UCL, without the prior approval of the Council.  No land or buildings of UCL shall be disposed of, without the prior approval of the Council and, where appropriate, HEFCE.


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Page last modified on 10 aug 14 14:47