As approved at GOC Board meeting 1 April 2023
Individuals may need to travel on business as and when required in order to help the GOC achieve its aim and objectives. The GOC is committed to minimising its travel costs to reduce expenditure and to reducing our carbon footprint. You should ensure your journey is essential and there is a clear business need before booking and that you have first considered a VC/Skype meeting. Not only will this ensure we use our limited budgets to best purpose, it is also a statement on how we respect the environment.
The GOC will:
- meet the cost of your travel on official business;
- reimburse you for any out of pocket expenses actually and necessarily incurred in the course of official business;
- pay subsistence allowance if you necessarily incur expenses when you are away from home on official business (the subsistence paid will cover only costs necessarily incurred); and
- ensure that claims for payment in relation to travel and subsistence are processed promptly
This document sets out the GOC’s policy on planning business travel. In developing its policy in this area, the GOC has taken account of:
- its responsibility for ensuring, as far as is reasonably practical, the health and safety of GOC Members while travelling on business;
- its liability to Inland Revenue for the tax and NI on any payments made.
You should familiarise yourself with this guidance before arranging any business travel.
1. PLANNING A JOURNEY
1.1 Is the journey necessary?
Firstly, make sure you are clear that:
- there is a clear business purpose for the journey;
- the purpose will further the GOC’s aim and objectives; and
- the purpose cannot be achieved another way e.g. by video conferencing, phone, email or letter.
1.2 If the journey is necessary
In order to plan your journey, you need to check:
- whether you can complete the journey to the destination and return to your home in one day;
- what time the journey needs to start. (e.g. can you put the start time of a meeting back to avoid peak rates and the busiest travel periods?); and
- what method of travel is most cost-effective.
1.3 Working out the most cost-effective method of travel
Before making a booking, you need to check what method of travel is most cost-effective. In particular compare the journey time and cost of using public transport versus private car versus a rental car where HMRC reimbursement rates do not apply.
If you are considering using your own private car, make sure you can comply with the requirements set out below particularly on insurance and review your own insurance company restrictions.
Consider the effect on overall efficiency of a long journey, and factor in breaks from driving. Will you be properly effective if you are tired after a long day travelling? Is there a risk of possible driver fatigue? Such circumstances may justify an overnight stay despite the additional hotel and subsistence costs. (In this connection, a long journey is considered to be more than 6 hours travel in a single day.) You should similarly consider an overnight stay if you would be unable to return home by 22.00 hours.
2. TRAVEL BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND HIRE CAR
2.1 Rail or Bus Travel
The GOC is committed to minimising its travel costs to reduce expenditure and to reducing our carbon footprint. You should ensure your journey is essential and there is a clear business need before booking and that you have first considered a VC/Skype or telephone conference meeting. When you are travelling by rail or bus, you must:
- Purchase restricted (set time) tickets and reserve a seat and purchase the ticket well in advance of travel to get the lowest rates.
- Travel off peak, where possible
Travel in the appropriate class
- First class travel will only be permitted where total travel time in one day is expected to be over 6 hours and the train portion is expected to be the majority of this time.
- On a multiple day trip where either overnight accommodation or multiple days of meal charges (due to free accommodation) will be charged to GOC then return First Class travel should be discouraged.
- Where you have a temporary or permanent incapacity first class travel may be appropriate.
Purchase restricted (set time) tickets.
You must use time restricted tickets and book a seat. These include super off peak and off peak returns but please note that two singles are often the cheapest. You may only consider “open tickets” if:
- Your journey was scheduled at very short notice, travel had to be at peak time and there was no price advantage in booking restricted tickets.
- After due planning of your trip, you require flexibility which a restricted ticket cannot provide. In most cases flexibility will only be required on the return leg of your journey. You should still book a restricted (set time) ticket for your outward journey if this is cheaper.
- Your plans change on the day or a meeting unavoidably overruns and you need to buy another ticket as your original ticket is no longer valid. When Members need to buy tickets then they can of course reclaim the cost.
It is important that we all try and ensure that meetings are run to time, planned in advance as far as is possible and that any changes are notified promptly. This will allow Members who are travelling to plan ahead and secure the cheapest train tickets. First class tickets must be purchased in advance to get the lowest rates. First class tickets will not be reimbursed if the traveller has not planned their journey in such a way as to take advantage of reasonably priced tickets.
2.2 Air Travel
Air travel will be allowed when:
- there is a cost advantage because of savings of subsistence allowance and official time; or
- the urgency of the journey justifies any extra cost.
All air travel should be economy. You are expected to select the airline on the basis of cost and convenience and to make full use of discounted fares.
2.3 Hire Cars
If you decide that a hire car is the most efficient way of making the journey, you must familiarise yourself with your responsibilities and adhere to the guidance on the use of hire cars as set out below.
The GOC’s policy is based on the following factors:
- value for money
- environmental responsibilities in the context of fuel consumption
Please try and hire cars of 1600cc small or large compact car such as a Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra. If you don’t feel that you could drive the delivered car safely (e.g. because it is too big or too powerful), you should refuse it when it is delivered. If you consider there is a business case for a larger car (e.g. if there are several GOC Members travelling together), please explain this in your expenses claim.
Issues arising from the hire contract
- have a full valid driving licence; and
- fulfil all the other conditions of contract. (These vary between companies and you should check a particular supplier’s conditions)
- check the car (inside and out) for any signs of damage that are not shown on the delivery form. Failure to do this may leave you (not GOC) liable for damage or increased insurance costs; andcheck the fuel tank is full – cars should be delivered to you with a full tank. Note the delivery form if it is not.
Whenever possible, you must check the car (inside and out) for any signs of damage before collection by, or return to, the hire company. Failure to do this may leave you (not GOC) liable for damage or increased insurance costs.
You should refuel the car before returning the car. Failure to do so leaves you (not GOC) liable for very high refuelling charges levied by the hire car companies.
3. TRAVEL BY PRIVATE VEHICLE
3.1 It is GOC policy to reduce business travel by private car.
There are three reasons for this goal
- Financial – it is often cheaper to use public transport.
- Health and Safety – reduced car travel lowers H&S risks to volunteers.
- Environmental – reducing emissions from Member-owned vehicles is a good idea.
The GOC will normally reimburse you for expenses that you actually and necessarily incur in the course of business travel using your own vehicle. It would be greatly appreciated if vehicle mileage were not charged to the GOC when the GOC trip was on the way of another planned trip. Example: a London GOC meeting, where you drove to London from the north or west then on to Europe for a holiday which you were going to do regardless of GOC business.
3.2 Insurance declaration
If you use your private car it is your responsibility to make sure that the required insurance conditions are met.
You must declare in writing that:
- you know and understand the insurance requirements;
- you are covered to meet these requirements.
3.3 Definition of a private car
For the purposes of payment of Motor Mileage rates, a car will be regarded as your private car if it is:
- registered in your name (i.e. you own the car or are buying it on hire purchase); or
- registered in your spouse’s name provided that:
- the insurance requirements (see above) are fulfilled; and
- the insurance policy specifically covers the use of the car by you on the business of the GOC.
3.4 Rates of allowance
We will pay the rates for journeys that we accept as meeting the conditions set out in this policy and as published here (or at a subsequent link) by HMRC:
3.5 Distances for which mileage allowance can be claimed
You can only claim mileage allowances wherever the journey starts (normally home or office) and the place visited by the shortest practicable route and the subsequent return journey.
3.6 Garage expenses, tolls and ferries, and breakdown or repair costs
When you use your private car on official business, we will reimburse you for the cost of:
- garaging and parking fees; and
- tolls and ferry charges.
Under no case will GOC reimburse the costs of any mechanical problems with your private vehicle or towing charges / recovery charges or incidental expenses incurred due to mechanical issues with your vehicle. These are to your own account.
We will reimburse the full cost when the total of mileage allowance, toll and other charges does not exceed the cost of the journey by public transport (including the fares of any passengers).
3.7 Expense Report Detail
You must submit a full explanation to support a claim for reimbursement of these charges, including invoices/receipts so that the charges can be confirmed as actually and necessarily incurred.
4. OTHER TRAVEL EXPENSES
4.1 You will only be reimbursed for taxi costs:
- when there is no other suitable method of public transport; or
- when you have to transport heavy luggage or equipment to or from the place of departure or arrival; or
- where the saving of official time is important.
4.2 Food / Sustenance costs:
We will reimburse documented meal costs up to a maximum of £40 per calendar day. Guidelines include breakfast to not exceed £10, lunch to not exceed £15 and dinner to not exceed £20. Meals consumed at home are not to be charged to GOC even if consumed at the start or end of a GOC journey.
If an overnight stay is absolutely necessary, members should if possible try to stay with other members, friends or family. If this is not possible, subject to prior approval, we will reimburse the cost of a modest hotel or other accommodation.
4.4 Other expenses:
Documented costs for pet housing, child care, and elderly carer expenses will be reimbursed by GOC with prior approval when Members are away from home on GOC business and where the costs would not otherwise be normally incurred. Receipts will be required.
5. RESPONSIBILITY OF THE GOC TREASURER IN PROCESSING EXPENSE CLAIMS
5.1 The GOC Treasurer has to police this policy. All expense claims should provide adequate documentation to the Treasurer to make their job as straight forward as possible. A text narrative that accompanies all receipts is very helpful, explaining how and for what reasons costs were incurred and ensures it is charged to the right expense line.
5.2 Historically the GOC Treasurer never had to forecast travel or subsistence expenses as they were low and rarely exceeded 2% of yearly revenues. With this new policy this may no longer be the case, so any assistance in forecasting these expenses would be greatly appreciated.
5.3 If the Treasurer questions an expense claim, he will first raise the issue directly with the person in question. If adequate answers or explanations are not forthcoming to the treasurer’s satisfaction, he will refer the issue to both the Chairman and the Secretary. If the expenses are those of the Chairman or Secretary, the Treasurer will select another Board member to take their place. The decision of the Treasurer and the other two Board members shall be final by majority (2 votes) decision as to the appropriateness of the expenses claim made. Prompt written feedback will be provided to the claimant, and the balance of the expenses claim will be paid as quickly as possible.