Claiming Expenses – Guidelines and Procedures for Trustees and Committee Members

These abbreviated notes are extracted from the full guidance note dated December 2017, copies of which are available from the Finance Manager at Head Office.  The full guidance note sets out procedures for trustees and committee members, and others who undertake voluntary work on behalf of the Association, to claim expenses incurred during the course of their voluntary work for the Association and its subsidiary companies. 

General Principles

A.   The board of trustees has agreed that those who undertake work in a voluntary capacity for the Association should not feel obliged to contribute to the Association’s objectives in a financial sense as a well as giving of their time and energies.  Thus, members of committees and others who undertake volunteer work for the Association are invited to claim for expenses incurred during the course of such work, subject to the rules and procedures set out below.

B.   No expenditure, including incurring expenses of any sort, is allowed without an appropriate budget being agreed beforehand.  Those incurring an expense have a duty to ensure that there is an agreed budget under which their expense can be claimed and that whoever is responsible for that budget is aware of the likely expense and agrees to it, before the expense is incurred.

C.   An expense claimed may not exceed the expense actually incurred.

D.   All those claiming expenses have a duty to ensure that each expense represents good value for money for the Association, and that it represents worthwhile expenditure, such that average members would regard the expense as a good and proper use for funds that they might give to the Association to further its charitable work.  Before any expenses are occurred, those incurring the expenses should ask themselves whether they represent the best use of funds.

How to Claim Expenses

E.   All expenses should be claimed on an appropriate and current Expenses Claim Form.  Printed and electronic copies are available from the Finance Manager at Head Office.  Separate claim forms should be completed for expenses incurred on behalf of the Association and each of its subsidiary companies.  It is helpful if separate claim forms are completed where expenses claimed are the responsibility of more than one budget holder.

F.   Evidence of expenditure should be supplied with each claim.  VAT law requires that reclaim of VAT is only permissible if a VAT receipt or invoice is produced (with certain exceptions, such as where it is not practicable to obtain a receipt –e.g. from coin vending machines for London Underground tickets and some car park ticket machines).  A VAT receipt shows the VAT registration number of the issuer and the rate or amount of VAT paid.

G.   Where a claimant is unable to produce evidence of expenditure or a VAT receipt where appropriate, a separate written letter confirming the expenditure and explaining the reason for the absence of supporting documentation should be attached to the expense claim.  Head Office is required to return all claims without full supporting evidence, or satisfactory explanation, to the claimant unpaid. 

H.   Claims for expenses should be submitted regularly, preferably at not more than two months after the earliest expense to be claimed.  Head Office has no authority to pay claims submitted later than six months after they have been incurred, or after 31st January for an expense incurred during the previous financial year.

I.    All expenses are paid by electronic transfer direct to the claimant’s bank account.  Unless the claimant is certain that bank details are held at Head Office, these details should be supplied with the expense claim.  Cheques are only issued in the most exceptional of circumstances.

Travel

J.    For train journeys, travellers should research and choose the cheapest ticket options.  Taxis should not be used unless there is no alternative option.  Where it is necessary to use vehicles owned by the Association or its subsidiary companies, exact costs for fuel and other expenses should be claimed, supported by appropriate receipts and details of the exact vehicle concerned.  Where the use of the claimant’s own car is necessary, The maximum rate than be claimed is 33p per mile, and where it can be afforded, claimants are invited to consider claiming at a lower rate.  The average ‘fuel only’ cost for petrol cars is 16p per mile and 13p per mile for diesel cars.  Where mileage is claimed, the claim form should be accompanied by VAT receipts covering at least the fuel element (which is set by HM Revenue & Customs), so that the Association can reclaim the appropriate amount of VAT.  Claimants are encouraged to consider donating a portion of their claims back to the Association as a donation (having signed a Gift Aid declaration where appropriate). 

Communications

K.   Evidence of expenditure on communications by post, telephone, fax, mobile telephone and electronic methods should be submitted in the same manner as for other expenditure.  Where the cost of telephone calls, post or similar exceeds £25 in any one claim, an annotated itemised bill or other written evidence supporting the purpose of such communication should also accompany the claim.

Accommodation and Meals

L.   A claim for overnight accommodation (up to a maximum of £80, plus up to £7 for breakfast, per night) and evening meal (up to a maximum of £15 per person) is permitted if the Association business to which they pertain occurs at a distance of more than fifty miles from home on two consecutive days, and for further nights only if preceding and succeeding days also include Association business that meets these criteria. 

Authorisation

M.  Before any expense is submitted to Head Office it should be authorised by the relevant budget holder (except where the budget holder is the chief executive).  Head Office is required to return unpaid any expense claims that have not been properly authorised.  Budget holders are responsible for ensuring that expenses (and all other expenditure) remain within budgets and any tolerances agreed.  If Head Office becomes aware that such budgets and tolerances would be exceeded by the payment of a claim it is required to withhold payment until approval has been sought from Finance Committee.  Where practicable, budget holders should add, or check, the Head Office bookkeeping code to ensure that costs are allocated to the correct budget.

Donations

N.   Some claimants may wish to make a financial contribution to the Association as well as offering their time and energy.  Such donations are most welcome, but there is no obligation or expectation.  In the past, some members have allied donations to expenses, and made an adjustment on their expenses claim form in respect of this (for example, a donation of £5 in recognition of taking a meal during the course of a committee meeting).  It would be most helpful and beneficial to the Association if all such donations could be made completely separate of expense claims, to make clear that all such donations are freely given and unconnected to expenses.  Provided that these donations are kept separate, they qualify for Gift Aid, thereby further enhancing the benefit to the Association.

O.   Sometimes members have not claimed expenses due to them on the basis of donating their expenses to the Association.  In such instances, it would be most helpful and beneficial to the Association if members would (a) claim these expenses in the normal way and then (b) make a separate donation to the Association of a not-quite-equivalent amount.  In this way, the donations would qualify for Gift Aid, thereby further enhancing the benefit to the Association.  However, Gift Aid cannot be claimed unless there is a separate clearly evidenced donation that is unrelated to any benefit.

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