UCL News


Final UCL Expenses policy - what has changed and what does it mean for UCL staff?

12 May 2016

A meeting of UCL's senior management team (SMT) this week agreed a

ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/expenses-policy" target="_self">final version of our expenses policy. Members of SMT, including vice-provosts, deans and heads of professional services, are now tasked with ensuring that it is applied appropriately throughout the UCL community.

Some of the changes and clarifications in this policy reflect feedback from UCL staff, received after we reissued the policy earlier this year. This note explains how you have helped to shape its current incarnation.

Why has the expenses policy changed?

In February 2015, UCL's internal auditors examined the operation of UCL's expenses policy. They made a number of recommendations, one of which was that the policy should be reviewed to reflect current best practice. A subsequent review looked at our policy against those of comparable universities and found that UCL was compliant with regulation and fell in line with other institutions - unsurprisingly, given we all follow the same HMRC guidelines for expenses limits.

We then took the decision to re-circulate the existing policy (it was circulated in the Week@UCL to all staff in November 2015) with minimal changes, with the aim of ensuring that all staff complied with the policy.

In retrospect and based on staff feedback, this was not the right decision. The tone of the original document was felt to be unfriendly, and therefore did not achieve what it should have done - which was to guide staff to a sensible and measured application of the policy.

In addition, the original policy had contained some anachronistic rules which came to the attention of staff when it was recirculated.

In light of your feedback, we've now amended the policy to counter these two issues.

What exactly has changed in this version of this policy?

The new policy has:

  • Highlighted more clearly where and how exceptions can be authorised
  • Limited the requirement for prior approval
  • Identified more explicitly where we are restricted by current HMRC rules
  • Clarified the allowance for the cost of meals while staying away overnight
  • Removed the restriction on refreshments for meetings under four hours
  • Clarified the circumstances under which taxi travel will be reimbursed
  • Added some specific exceptions to the general restriction on reimbursing personal professional subscriptions.

Thank you for the feedback that led to this final policy. You can view the policy, see how we compare to other institutions and provide your comments at the links below.

Phil Harding, Director of Finance & Business Affairs and Rex Knight, Vice-Provost (Operations)