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Weekly Bulletin No. 831

Tuesday 29th September 

Procurement heading

Important: Nitrile glove supply chain issues

As a direct result of COVID-19, some suppliers are facing a shortage of some products covered by the IRLA Framework. The situation is particularly acute regarding nitrile gloves, with supply of this product-type unlikely to normalise until 2021. We have received the following supplier updates regarding nitrile glove (and other select PPE) orders. If you have any queries on this matter, please contact us in procurement.services.enquiries@admin.cam.ac.uk. We will continue to provide updates from suppliers as they come in.

Our category managers are actively monitoring the situation regarding nitrile glove availability, which will be raised as an agenda item on the upcoming Commodity Working Group session for Science Purchasing (12 October 2020).

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Supplier updates

  • APPLETON WOODS LTD (Supplier No: 67986): Supplying nitrile gloves on a 'fair usage' policy, whereby orders are fulfilled if they are in-line with historical ordering levels over the last twelve months.
  • ARCO LTD(No: 60292): At the end of August, Arco initiated a new process called 'Spot Pricing', which they state is required to alleviate current supply and demand constraints. This may see prices change from the time of order to time of invoice. This new process will affect the pricing of gloves in particular. Arco have stated that any orders affected by Spot Pricing are returnable for a full refund.
  • SCIENTIFIC LABORATORY SUPPLIES LTD (SLS) (No. 62075): Struggling to fulfil orders at present. Not anticipating normal order fulfilment until Easter 2021.
  • STARLAB (No. 62207):  Restricting orders to existing customers. Supplier advises to keep placing orders as usual for nitrile gloves. If a particular glove is out of stock, Starlab will contact to offer an alternative. Stock availability fluctuates week-by-week: StarGuard Comfortcurrently has no estimated time of arrival. StarGuard Protect, StarGuard Sensitive, and Supreno ranges are arriving each month and will be processed for delivery as and when available.
  • VWR INTERNATIONAL LTD(No. 61614): Orders for nitrile gloves fulfilled on a rolling basis, prioritising existing customers (inc. the University of Cambridge). VWR recommend placing open orders, which will be fulfilled as soon as inventory is available. If departments are able to secure supply elsewhere before their open order is fulfilled by VWR, the order with VWR can then be cancelled.

Issued by Matthew Kidd and Helen Stuckey - Procurement

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Delegated Authority Forms

Following end of year, we are seeing a varied number of new/renewed delegated authority forms. In order for us to collect and store correctly, we request that all delegated authority forms are sent to us in Procurement Services by October 30th. You can find a copy of the form here in Annex B. Please send completed forms to procurement.services.enquiries@admin.cam.ac.uk.

Issued by Angela Wain - Procurement

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Tax Heading

5% VAT rate extended

The 5% rate for catering, attractions and holiday accommodation has been extended until 31 March 2021.  Further details of its application can be found in Bulletin number 820

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VAT – Early termination & compensation payments

HMRC have updated their policy on the VAT treatment of charges made to customers to withdraw from agreements to supply goods or services. Historically, HMRC accepted that early termination charges and other compensation payments could be outside the scope of VAT.  Following recent European Court judgments, HMRC are now of the view that such charges will normally be additional consideration for a supply, regardless of how they are described, and VAT is due.  See Revenue & Customs Brief 12 (2020).

This may apply to services such as the early termination of broadband contracts, upgrade fees charged by telecom providers, charges for the termination of asset finance leases, and (more generally) liquidated damages clauses and charges for breaches of contract.

It may be the case that suppliers issue VAT-only invoices to correct historic transactions.  If Departments have made similar charges, it may be that action needs to be taken by the University. In either case, we encourage you to contact the University Tax Team at vatqueries@admin.cam.ac.uk to seek confirmation of the correct VAT position.

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VAT –digital advertising for charities

HMRC have clarified their policy in relation to the zero-rating of digital advertising services provided to charities.

Zero-rate VAT applies to advertising services supplied to a charity when the services are designed for the general public. However, such services are excluded from the zero rate if a member of the public has been ‘selected’ by (or on behalf of) the charity to receive the advertising.

Digital advertising services include a level of selection that can make it difficult to determine if the zero-rate can apply.  Online advertising services are complex and constantly changing, but they are often aimed at general audiences rather than at individuals. On that basis, HMRC has accepted that some, though not all, are eligible for the zero rate.  Revenue & Customs Brief 13 (2020): VAT charity digital advertising relief details a long list of different advertising categories that can now be zero-rated and highlights that social media and subscription website advertising remains standard rated.

Departments will need to consider their own advertising procurement in light of the new policy changes. 

Please do contact the University Tax Team at vatqueries@admin.cam.ac.uk with any VAT questions. The University Tax Team will also be reviewing historic purchase data to consider if a retrospective VAT reclaim is appropriate but any information that can be provided by the Departments would be appreciated

Issued by Angela Fearnside - Interim Deputy VAT Manager

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Training header

Forthcoming courses (via Teams)

General Ledger 2, Tue 6 Oct.

Following on from GL1, learn how to run and interpret GL reports. Must have completed GL1 and Cognos Intro or equivalent.

General Ledger 1, Wed 14 Oct

This course covers the basics of how the General Ledger CUFS module works and how to run online account enquiries. The second session, which is optional, covers journal processing.

Issued by Christine Rogerson - Finance Training

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Quick Tip – Using Excel Macros for repetitive processes

Set up a macro to automatically format data in the same way on a regular basis. View the three minute video here.

Issued by Helen Parker - Finance Training

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FAQ heading

Monthly Accounting Timetable

To view the status of the monthly process including the month end close dates please use the following link: Accounting Timetable

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Vulnerable Periods

Some systems may be unavailable between 6.00am to 9.00am Tuesdays and Thursdays. Users will be notified of planned vulnerable periods here and in the latest bulletin.