Paying resident expenses in advance / 'petty cash' expense payments
01/07/2011 11:54 am
Location: Portsmouth, UK.
We are reviewing the way we pay resident expenses for involvement activities. It would be great to find out if your organisation has any of the following problems, and how you deal with resident expenses claims.
We currently pay in advance for mileage claims and we have accounts set up with train and taxi companies and hotels. We give residents the relevant account numbers if they prefer to book their own travel/accommodation, or one of our involvement officers does it for them.
However, some expenses claims are submitted 'on the day' of a meeting or event. Often this is for a bus fare or a small mileage claim, or it's sometimes because someone can't afford to wait for an advance claim to be processed: they need the cash back straight away. Because our stock is widely dispersed we often don't hold meetings at our offices - we use community centres, schools etc - and besides our offices don't take cash payments for rent so we don't have any 'petty cash' or 'floats' in our offices.
So our staff don't have access to petty cash to pay these 'on the day' claims. They often pay the expenses out of their own pockets and claim it back, but sometimes staff can't afford to wait until the next payday to get the money back.
The simple solution might seem to be to put a float / petty cash in all of our offices, but this might involve installing safes, and putting in place procedures for cash handling.
One other question re. paying expenses in advance. Can anyone confirm if this practice breaches any financial regulations?
Ultimately we want a solution that means tenants aren't 'out-of-pocket' for any longer than necessary.
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01/07/2011 4:24 pm
A bit of a difficult one this -- especially when tenants really can't afford to be without the use of their finances whilst a landlord's processes are gone through.
Sometimes reinbursement or other payments by landlords are made via cheques which can be sitting on peoples' desks awaiting delivery to tenants.
The short answer would be a 'petty cash' system based on payment on receipt of a 'proof of purchase' or an on-the-spot claim form.
Things like bus/rail tickets could be copied or even photographed as 'proof of purchase' by the person paying out the cash (obviously a member of staff with appropriate authorisation).
Ideally, tenants shouldn't be out of pocket at all never mind 'any longer than necessary'.
Payment in advance? Not so sure about that though -- I can see that lack of financial resources could (and indeed does) prevent people from attending meetings -- however, the landlord should arrange for the transport and pay for it, any hotel bills (except of course any relating-to-leisure activities such as 'boozing') and sustinence where overnight stays are necessary.
I appreciate the problems in cash handling but perhaps a debit card system could work -- the member of staff goes to bank, draws out £XX and pays out claims at the event. There would be some way to figure out how the member of staff would have coins as well.
Just some thoughts, I realise there will be details to iron out and I would commend your prganisation for ensuring that tenants are not financially disadvantaged -- a lesson all organisations could learn, perhaps.
01/07/2011 11:12 pm
In a former role I was a TPO and came across problems relating to this quite regularly. The solution tended to depend on the individual tenants/staff needs. I usually arranged petty cash in advance, having checked taxi fares in advance. Wherever possible fares/hotel bills were paid both ways in advance by company card, with the passenger providing the reciepts at the end of the trip or somthings on arrival at the venue. I regularly organised petty cash for fares and hall hire in advance which was left with a designated person to get the recipts. It involved a lot of organising on my part, but That kind of goes with the job!
I would have thought that a petty cash time with a small float could be organised in your office and kept in a locked tin or secure cupboard?
Mileage claims were only ever sorted out in advance for long trips to conferences and that sort of things, mainly because it is very easy to pay out money only for people not to turn up to a meeting but have already submitted a claim. As TPO I was required to check all mileage claims against meeting minutes/ attendance lists in order to ensure that they were accurate. The downside of this was that some tenants would wait till they had a really huge claim, and others would submit loads of really small ones which got caught up in somones in or out tray for ages
01/07/2011 11:15 pm
Well put Anon.