Finance & Procurement

Major capital grants

These grants come from a variety of sources. The majority are HEFCE initiatives, sometimes as a collaborative initiative with research councils, charities or government departments (e.g. Joint Infrastructure Fund, Joint Research Equipment Initiative), sometimes as their own specific initiative (e.g. Capital Project Allocations, Science Research Infrastructure Fund). Other grant funding can come from a number of sources, key ones being the research councils, charitable trusts, industry and the Lottery.

The sponsorship may be to fund buildings, refurbishment and/or equipment.

Sometimes with this funding, the University has to contribute a percentage of the costs. One object of the procedures is to ensure that all the funding sources are agreed before commencement of any procurement.

The other prime object is to ensure that the documentation required by the sponsor is completed and submitted in line with sponsor requirements.

For advice on this area please contact Anne Winchester in the Finance Office.

Application and set up process

The application process should be co-ordinated centrally:

  • HEFCE capital initiatives are usually co-ordinated by the Vice-Chancellor’s office
  • in all other cases, the Research Support Unit (RSU) should be consulted to see if the application process should be co-ordinated through that office or, if not, to advise as to where it should be.

Where the available grants are for equipment, the Purchasing Manager should be consulted at the proposal stage by the Department applying for the award. Where the grants are for buildings or refurbishment, the Director of Estates must be directly involved in the application process.

Once an application is successful, the source and underlying purpose of that funding are key in determining where a financial project account is set up and administered internally:

  • where the underlying purpose is to further research and the source is not HEFCE, then a research grant account will be set up and administered by the RSU
  • in all other cases the account will be set up and overseen by the Finance Office.

Before a project account is set up and before any expenditure is committed, a Project Control form must have been completed by the Department and submitted to the Director of Finance. There are two Project Control forms, one for equipment and one for building works (see Appendix A). The forms will require that:

  • where the approved budgeted costs exceed the grant funds available, the Department has identified the additional funding source(s) and has had this agreed by the relevant Faculty Dean
  • expenditure profiles have been completed. Where these have to be sent to the project sponsor the profile must be completed by the Department with the assistance of the Finance Office or RSU and sent on to the project sponsor by the Finance Office / RSU. In the case of building works, certain fees may have to be incurred before a final profile can be sent onto the project sponsor. In this case an account may be set up with authority to incur preliminary costs up to an agreed budget. Costs must not be committed on the main works until the expenditure profile has been agreed and sent on to the project sponsor by the Finance Office
  • a listing of all major (>£10K) equipment to be purchased on that grant is provided.

In relation to grants awarded for equipment:

  • the Purchasing Manager should be consulted to provide advice and guidance on procurement procedures in order to ensure compliance with University Financial Regulations relating to contracts and tenders. This will include assistance in complying with EU tendering procedures for larger items
  • all project sponsor documentation relating to procurement of equipment must be completed in conjunction with the Purchasing Services and signed off and submitted to the project sponsor by the Purchasing Manager before any expenditure is committed. A copy should be sent to the Finance Office
  • the “Blue Form” procedure should precede the use of a purchase order. This form should clearly indicate the source of funding and the account code allocated to it by the Finance Office / RSU
  • if any payments with order are to form part of the contract, this must be agreed with the Purchasing Manager before any commitment is made to the supplier and be clearly identified on the Blue Form.

In relation to grants awarded for building and refurbishment work:

  • University Financial Regulations in regard to the approval of works over £100.000 apply. This is detailed in Procedure PR3 in the Financial Regulations
  • due regard should be taken of any required documentation regarding the procurement and tendering process. HEFCE or other sponsor forms in this area should be completed and returned by the Estates Department as soon as possible and before the main works commence. A copy should be sent to the Finance Office
  • the Estates Department must retain all documentation regarding procurement and tendering for audit purposes.

Project management

It is the responsibility of the Department to which the grant has been made to ensure that only valid expenditure is charged to the grant account in line with the terms and conditions of the agreement and also to ensure that spending is kept within budget and time limits. For building work the responsibility for some or all the costs may be passed to Estates.

  • for equipment, any excess of costs over funding will be charged to the Department’s operating budget
  • for building & refurbishment projects, any increase to budgeted costs must be authorised by way of a revised cost profile approved by the relevant Head of Department and the Director of Finance. This should make clear where the additional funding is to come from. No further expenditure may be committed until this is done.

Significant variations in the timing and pattern of expenditure compared to the original profile must be notified to the Finance Office. HEFCE require variations in expenditure of more than 50% in one month or significant delays to be notified to them and this should be done through the Finance Office.

The responsible Department should let the Finance Office / RSU know as soon as the project is ‘complete’ in order that a final claim can be submitted to the project sponsor. That claim should be submitted by the Finance Office / RSU, but may be prepared with the assistance of the Department.

Where a completion statement is required by the sponsor, this should be submitted by the Finance Office / RSU in the case of equipment grants or by Estates in the case of building grants (with a copy to Finance).

Any audit required of the financial aspects of the project should be organised by the Finance Office / RSU. Any costs (where rules require an external auditor) will be borne by the Department.