Expenses

Incurring expenses often happens when undertaking work for the University and there are a number of processes in place to help you avoid being out of pocket for costs incurred as part of your work.

The emphasis is now on the four principles that underpin all University expense claims, which are: 

 

Expenses Principles Logo
  1. Value for money is achieved.

  2. Expenses should only be used when it is not possible and/or practical for the University to pay for the good or service directly.

  3. Costs incurred are for business purposes only, and the individual does not receive a personal benefit.

  4. Only actual and evidenced costs are reclaimed.

 

The information across these pages will help you understand what can and cannot be claimed through the expenses process, and what supporting information you need to support your claim. Wherever possible, the University's Purchasing to Pay (P2P) system should be used to purchase goods or services in the first instance, with a University credit card being used as the second option. If these cannot be used, you may then use the expenses process to reclaim any expenses incurred..

From a legal perspective, HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) rules and regulations of what can and cannot be claimed through expenses are embedded within UK law, and all businesses, organisations and charities must operate in accordance with them.

Expenses Policy

To help the University meet these legal requirements, our expenses Policy is designed to guide claimants through incurring and claiming these expenses, ensuring the process is as easy and efficient as possible. The complete expenses policy can be found linked on the right of this page, in PDF format.

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This Policy establishes the rules on reimbursement of reasonable expenses incurred in the course of University business. The overall purpose of the Policy is to guide claimants through incurring and claiming these expenses, ensuring the process is as easy and efficient as possible. The Policy also aims to make sure that:

  • individuals neither lose nor gain financially;
  • value for money is achieved;
  • fraud is avoided; and
  • tax and legal obligations are complied with.

There are four mandatory Principles that all expense claims must follow:

  1. Value for money is achieved. Costs should be modest and reasonable, and any cost which an external observer might regard as being unnecessary or excessive use of public/charitable funds must be avoided.  “Reasonable” expenses are those that are cost-effective when weighed against the purpose of the activity. Reimbursement in full is not guaranteed if the claim is not considered to be value for money.
     
  2. It is not possible and/or practical for the University to pay for the good or service directly by raising a purchase order or receiving an invoice (as opposed to the individual incurring the expense and being reimbursed).
     
  3. Costs incurred are for business purposes only, and the individual does not receive a personal benefit (see taxation below).
     
  4. Only actual and evidenced costs are reclaimed on a timely basis within the timeframe and claims are authorised by someone other than the claimant or a related individual. Claimants should note that an expense is not considered legitimate until authorised.

All expense claims must be in line with this Policy, which forms part of the Financial Regulations.

Any expenses charged to funds provided by research or other funders must, in addition, be in line with that funder’s specific terms and conditions. This Policy applies in all cases unless grant terms and conditions are stricter. The University is responsible for acting as a good steward of funds, and therefore all expenditure should be in line with the principles irrespective of the source of funding.

This Policy should be read in conjunction with other University policies including the Gifts and Hospitality Policy, the Statement of Policy and Procedure on Conflict of Interest, the Anti-Bribery Policy, the Anti-Fraud Policy, and the Reward and Recognition Scheme.

This Policy applies to any expense claim submitted to the University (with the exception of OUP and subsidiary entities). Claimants may include staff, students and visitors. The Policy also covers all expenditure on an individual’s University Barclaycard and petty cash where relevant.

Heads of units are responsible for ensuring all members of the unit are made aware of the Expenses Policy and the consequences of failing to comply. Compliance is mandatory and subject to audit. Breaches will be taken seriously, and non-compliance may lead to disciplinary action.

Please note that the University does not refund expenses that constitute taxable benefits to non-staff members (including students), except those included on a PAYE Settlement Agreement Form.

  • Claimant - responsible for ensuring that their claim is in line with all the requirements set out in this Policy and any additional requirements established by research or other external funders. Claimants submit a declaration confirming this with each claim submitted.
     
  • Budget-holder/supervisor/Principal Investigator (optional) - if required by the Head of Unit (or delegate), confirms that the activity has taken place and supports a genuine business need, that it is appropriate to be met from their budget and there is budget available.
     
  • Head of unit (or their delegate) - has financial authority to approve claims in line with the delegated scheme of authority. By approving the claim, the Authorised Signatory confirms that:
    • Each expense claim complies with the principles and requirements set out in this Policy and any additional requirements established by research or other external funders; the cost was incurred solely for business purposes; only actually and evidenced costs are reclaimed; and the claim is correct, and all receipts are attached.
    • Budget is available.
    • Coding is correct.
    • Tax implications have been considered and any appropriate actions taken to ensure that relevant items have been flagged to the Finance Division for the application of tax.
  • Finance Division - will hold departments to account for compliance with this policy. The Finance Division will ensure that all tax treatment is correct.

Reasonable adjustments to this policy may be considered for those with disabilities or medical conditions.

Departments may use discretion in application of the policy to ensure that the principles of equality are met.

Personal Benefits - an expense may be deemed a benefit and therefore taxable if the claimant could benefit personally from it. For example if the University purchases a railcard for an employee which allows discounted train travel, even though the primary use of train travel is for work, the employee would be able to use that railcard for personal travel and so it would be deemed a taxable benefit.

The University manages tax treatment in line with HMRC regulations. No items resulting in a personal taxable benefit should be claimed unless specified in this policy. All tax on benefits should be charged to the individual, apart from tax charges arising as a result of declarations on a PAYE Settlement Agreement Form.

Departments are provided with sufficient detail to understand when items should be referred to the Finance Division for application of tax regulations. The Finance Division is responsible for ensuring that tax is applied as appropriate.

All claims must be in line with the principles set out above. The following sections of the Policy provide further detail on the types of cost that are likely to meet these principles, noting that while some flexibility is expected according to the situation, the principles apply in all cases.

If there are any doubts, you should always contact your departmental finance team prior to incurring any costs. The Finance Division provides extra information and support to ensure departmental finance teams can implement the policy.

Processes, Procedures & Forms


Expenses Policy


Contact us


 : Payment Services
       Finance Division
       University of Oxford
       23-38 Hythe Bridge Street
       Oxford OX1 2ET

 payments@admin.ox.ac.uk
 :  01865 (6) 16016
 :  Team contacts  

 
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