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Budgeting and Spending

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The money in your club/society account (especially in your grant account) is there to be spend. There are different procedures in place depending on the amount you’d like to spend. The procedures allow the Union to:

  • check that you have sufficient funds in your club/society account
  • assess the financial risk of the event or activity to your club or society
  • ensure transparency, accountability and that your money is being spent appropriately.

The following table explains what you need to do when you want to spend money or organise an event. For any purchases above £200, step one should always be to get approval from the Students’ Union. 

Level of Expenditure

Approval Process

When?

£0-200

No approval needed; you can make your purchase without consulting the Union using the Payment Request Form.

When necessary

£200-1000

Complete a Purchase Request Form online

A minimum of 10 working days in advance of the payment being due.

£1,000 or more

Complete a Purchase Request Form online.

Minimum 4 weeks before the payment is due. 

Any purchase (such as those involving the hire of an external venue or facility) for £2,000 or more.

Complete a Purchase Request Form online. Email a copy of the venue/facility hire contract to su.activities@ucl.ac.uk. Please ensure you keep copies of all receipts for proof of purchase.

Minimum 8 weeks before the event. 

Getting your budget approved

Upon submitting your purchase request form, it will be reviewed by the Student Activities Team. If your purchase is under £200, it will be passed to the Finance Team for payment. If your purchase is over £200, a panel of staff and officers (including the Activities and Events Officer and the Societies and Media Manager) will assess your event budgets and do one of three things:

  1. Approve it – you are then free to go ahead with the planned event.
  2. Defer it – you will then be contacted and asked for further clarification about the budget.
  3. Reject it – in this scenario you will not be allowed to proceed with the purchase. 

If you don’t have the money available then you can’t spend it, and your accounts cannot go into deficit.

Payment request forms do not need to be approved before making a purchase and will be considered once they are submitted.

Spending the money

There are a variety of different ways to spend money from your accounts. Firstly, when you know how much you want to spend, make sure you follow the correct spending approval procedures outlined in the section above. Once your expenditure has been approved then there are 3 ways to spend money:

1. Spend and Reclaim (up to £200, unless approval is sought beforehand)

You or one of your members spends their own money and gets receipts before reclaiming it from the Club or Society account using a Payment Request Form. If someone needs to spend more than £200 of their own money, please email su.activities@ucl.ac.uk to seek permission. See the detailed how to guide.

2. Online Purchases

All online purchases, regardless of their value can be made via the Finance Department. Obviously if they are under £200 then you can use the above Spend and Reclaim procedure to make your purchase. However, if it costs more or if you do not have the funds available yourself, then you should complete an Purchase Request Form and submit it. You will then be contacted by a member of staff who will make the order for you or will book a time for you to go to the Finance Department to make the online purchase using the Union’s credit card.

3. Orders Directly to a Company

When you want to make an order directly with a company, you should submit an Purchase Request Form. Once your Purchase Request Form is submitted, the Finance Department checks to make sure you have enough money in your accounts to make the order. If you do, then the order is processed, if you don’t then it is rejected. If the order is processed, payment will either be made before the goods are delivered or after the goods are delivered. 


Advice on managing expenditure

When spending money, be careful! You are responsible for the financial well being of your Club or Society, so make sure you budget carefully and think about all the possibilities. Additionally, look for quotes – it is good practice and it can save you money. Don’t assume that your predecessors knew the best companies to use, have a look yourself to make sure you are getting a good deal.

Most of dealing with expenditure and budgeting is risk management. Do you really have that money to spend? Are you really going to recoup that much through ticket sales? Is your predicted income guaranteed or assumed? If it is assumed, how safe is the assumption? Budgets will only work if you are realistic – don’t try and bend the income figures to fit your expenditure desires, as you will ultimately end up in deficit and always have a 15% contingency on events

The bottom line is that the club/society accounts are your responsibility. The Union will not bail you out if you drastically overspend; your accounts will just go into deficit and your funding will be cut the following year and a repayment plan organised.