FOI request reveals staff expense claims for the past three academic years

By Emma Pinckard

Palatinate has obtained through a Freedom of Information Request the amount of money that University staff have claimed in expenses over the past three years.

Due to the University changing its expenses payment system during this period, it was only possible to see in detail the expenses claims for the 2016 academic year, with the previous years only specifying mileage, air and rail travel costs, and ‘other expenses’.

The largest amount claimed by staff in the 2016 academic year was in hotel accommodation, where £197,772 was spent, followed by £124,276 spent on Economy Class flights, £80,634 on ‘subsistence 9-24 hours’ and £77,356 on conferences.

£76,768 was claimed in mileage, in addition to £27,203 for mileage specifically to and from Queen’s Campus Durham.

It can also be revealed that £2,224 was claimed on First Class flights, in addition to £49,898 on taxis and £1,533 on the London Underground.

In addition to this, over £70,000 was spent on hospitality, with £15,851 on lunch and £56,936 on dinner, in addition to £6,432 on ‘student hospitality’.

Other claims include car hire, national and international rail charges, other public transport, and outward visitor visa applications.

Sally McGill, Chief Financial Officer, said: “The University will reimburse employees and others for expenses incurred whilst performing University business, as detailed in our Expenses Policy.

“The objective of this policy is to ensure that all expenditure relating to travel, accommodation, subsistence, hospitality and other benefits is properly incurred, within reasonable limits and is consistent with the achievement of the University’s objectives and the requirements of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

“The University encourages the most sustainable and cost-effective methods at the time of travel, wherever possible.

“Detailed analysis of costs is only available for part of 2016 as a result of introducing new accounting software during this year.

“The previous payment software was not able to provide such detailed analysis and so all costs except car mileage, air and rail travel were classified as ‘other’.”

Photograph: Durham University

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