4. General Procedures

See also:

4.4 Advances

(a) Circumstances for making an advance

Advances for travel and subsistence will be provided where an individual would otherwise be significantly financially disadvantaged by using the Expense Claim or other processes. The following table outlines situations where requests for advances will be allowed.

Circumstances for allowing an advance request:
  • The recipient will be travelling on business away from their normal place of work for a period including at least one overnight stay and would otherwise be required to submit an Expenses Claim in excess of £300; or
  • A cash float is required for a specific activity or event that is either a one-off or of limited duration, e.g. for payments to participants in a study; or
  • The payment is part of an agreed long-term funding mechanism for significant overseas research projects or facilities, e.g. hospitals, research centres, overseas offices, etc.

Requests that do not satisfy at least one of these conditions will not usually be allowed and the recipient would normally be expected to use the Expenses Claim process. Note that wherever possible, travel arrangements should be booked through the University's preferred supplier, Key Travel.

Any exceptions must be agreed and approved in advance by either the Chief Cashier or the Payments Supervisor.

Note: The need for a payment in foreign currency is not in itself a valid reason for requesting an advance. Standard procedures for Expense Claims, Supplier Payments, etc. should be used together with the specific guidance provided on foreign currency payments in section 4.9.

(b) Cash or electronic advances

Advances may be made in a number of ways including:

  • Direct payment into the recipient's bank account;
  • Foreign currency (both cash and / or travellers' cheques);
  • UK cash.

The most appropriate method will depend upon the purpose and value of the advance sought, insurance cover provided and risk assessments made. In general, unless it is essential to carry cash, e.g. the area to be visited is remote and there are no local banking facilities, then the preferred method will be direct payment including payment to local banks in the area to be visited, or travellers' cheques.

General University insurance provides cover for up to £2,500 in cash within the UK, but no cover for cash overseas. Specific arrangements may be made with the University Insurance Team to extend cover. See the further details on travel insurance.

In addition to insurance cover, individuals requesting advances must also ensure that they comply with University policies on Safety in Fieldwork, particularly in respect of the completion of a risk assessment for overseas work.

(c) Advances requests and sums allowed

All advances, except for payments agreed as part of long-term funding for overseas projects, are requested via a specific AP Advance Request Form (127kb).

Cash advances should be requested using the Advance Request Form - Cash or Pre-Paid Card (120kb) form

Requests for payments for long-term funding of overseas projects or agreed exceptions to the standard Advances Process should be made via the AP Payment Request Form (2,981kb).

Advances are limited to 75% of the amount of anticipated expenditure, except where stated below. The Advances Request Form provides the means to show both the full amount estimated and the value allowed as an advance. Departments are not permitted to inflate estimates in order to ensure that the allowable amount in fact covers full anticipated costs.

Advances for cash floats and payments as part of an agreed long-term funding mechanism for significant overseas projects are not limited to 75% and may be made at full expected value.

Initial advances must be charged against the General Ledger natural account for uncleared travel advances (14100), or the Research Grants expenditure type (business advance/travel advance). There are no restrictions on which cost centre or projects codes may be used.

Advance Request Forms should be authorized in accordance with the rules for Payment Request Forms, outlined above. Completed and authorized forms must be submitted to the Payments Team in the Finance Division for payment. Advances Request Forms must NOT be input to Oracle within departments.

(d) Advance reconciliation and clearing of advances

Funds provided in advance must only be used for the purposes outlined on the Advance Request Form and must conform with the rules specified in this document.

The rules on receipts for expenses, detailed in section 4.2, apply also to the expenditure of advances.

Where an Advances Request Form has been used to obtain funds, once the activity for which the advance was made is complete, the recipient of the advance should complete the Advance Reconciliation and Actual Details Forms, provided as additional sheets to the original Advances Request Form. Advances must never be cleared by journal. Details of expenditure should be provided on the Actual Details Form and summarized on the Advance Reconciliation Form. Both forms should then be submitted, together with supporting receipts, to the Finance Division. The rules on authorization and submission are the same as for Expense Claims, as detailed at section 4.2.

The coding on the Advance Reconciliation Form should credit the travel advances code used when the initial advance was made (with the value of the original advance) and debit the actual value against the appropriate natural accounts or expenditure types where the costs should end up.

If there is a balance owed to the claimant on the Reconciliation Form then this will be paid by the University in reimbursement; if the balance is owed to the University, then a cheque payable to the University should be provided by the claimant to repay what is due to the University.

Where a Payment Request Form has been used to obtain funds, expenditure must be fully accounted for throughout the project, with receipts retained for inspection on request; any funding remaining at the end of the project must be repaid to the University.

Note: In all cases, retention of un-used cash or travellers' cheques in departments, apart from agreed petty cash floats, is expressly forbidden as it is not covered by University insurance or security arrangements.

Departments requesting advances also have a responsibility to review all advances made on a regular basis, identifying payments, payees and locations with a view to ascertaining whether it is possible to negotiate alternate means of payment.