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I am uncomfortable with this accepted practise

(21 Posts)
JumpandScore Mon 16-Nov-15 20:45:08

I am the new school business manager. We have a purchasing card account with cards in the name of me and the HT.

When people are going out shopping for school things,it has been normal practise to give them the SBM's card and PIN so that they can pay that way and avoid having to claim the money back. It suits the staff and does make the admin simpler, but I am really uncomfortable about giving out my card and PIN - the T&C and finance regs clearly state I am responsible for expenditure on that card. I'm not saying I don't trust my new colleagues, it just doesn't feel right.

Is it commonly done elsewhere?

SurlyCue Mon 16-Nov-15 20:48:58

Im assuming it has been done like this for some time without issue?

BackforGood Mon 16-Nov-15 20:50:53

Not IME. If something is given out in one person's name, and is important enought to have a PIN for it, then it shouldn't be shared.
My dh doesn't know my PINs for any of my cards! grin
There's no way I'd have anyone else use a card that is in my name. If they want to continue the practice then (if I were you) someone else would have to have the card in their name.

JumpandScore Mon 16-Nov-15 20:50:59

Yes, the previous SMB was apparently happy for her card to be used like this. I come from an audit/compliance background and it's not Ok with me. It wouldn't be Ok with the school auditors either. I'm not comfortable doing anything that has to be secret from the auditors!

JumpandScore Mon 16-Nov-15 20:52:23

That's how I feel BackforGood. When I worked in the fraud dept of a bank, one of the first questions asked when a card was misused was "who else knows your PIN?" Unless you could say no-one, you stood no chance of getting your money back.

SurlyCue Mon 16-Nov-15 20:53:22

Oh well if it is against rules then thats a different matter! Could you raise it with the head?

nickelbabe Mon 16-Nov-15 20:54:57

I say bad bad bad.
The card and pin are yours. You must never ever ever give it out.
If they're that desperate then can't you organise another card?

BrandNewAndImproved Mon 16-Nov-15 20:57:00

Can you not make sure you have £50 in petty cash available all the time so if someone says they need to buy whatever you can give them the £50 and ask for change and receipts.

Pico2 Mon 16-Nov-15 20:57:13

When I read your initial post, I was going to say that you wouldn't get that through an audit. But obviously you already know that. It does matter that you get through audits. It also would be an issue for any professional membership you have to allow this to go on as it is pretty dodgy (sorry, I'm sure it could be phrased better).

nickelbabe Mon 16-Nov-15 20:58:01

That's a good solution.
Or an amount based on what normal spend is

JumpandScore Mon 16-Nov-15 21:08:15

We do have petty cash but the finance regs state that it's not for items over £25 (and LA advice is that it's better that schools don't use petty cash at all, as it causes nothing but trouble).

FayKnights Mon 16-Nov-15 21:23:13

I'm in the same role and I would not allow anyone else to use my school credit card, if my staff buy anything they can submit an out of pocket expenses claim. Its so hard when you are new to a role and certain things are ingrained. If the head doesn't support you changing the process I would be sure to put it in an email and also consider involving the governors.

JumpandScore Mon 16-Nov-15 21:26:48

Thank you. I knew I was right, but they seem to think It's so normal.

I'm not giving out my card. If HT want to give them hers, that's up to her.

FayKnights Mon 16-Nov-15 21:29:18

Good on you!
Congratulations on your new job, its the most mental, tiring, fun job ever!

Pico2 Mon 16-Nov-15 21:39:25

If the HT is still giving out hers then she may scupper an audit. If the school has a bank account, then a transfer only takes a few hours. Surely that is sufficient.

JumpandScore Mon 16-Nov-15 21:41:42

Oh if only it were that simple pico. We still use a cheque book and who wants a cheque? Eventually, I will get BACS set up but there are so many priorities ATM. The previous SBM was very highly thought of, basically because she kept very tidy files and said yes to everyone. grin I am finding some horrors.

DoreenLethal Mon 16-Nov-15 21:48:30

'Presumably boss, you knew about my background in auditing and wanted me to tidy up these practices. So no, I shan't be doing that!'

Noodledoodledoo Fri 20-Nov-15 15:13:32

Please please please set up BACS payments - I have school expenses very rarely but our system of getting a cheque is a real pain. I have to take the form down, wait for a undefined amount of time for the SBM to sign the cheques, then I have to go and collect the cheque and sign for it from finance who are only in from 9-3 so I have to go during the school day which is a challenge and then I have to get to the bank!

In my out of school volunteer roles we moved to BACS payments well over 10 years ago!

It actually saves the school money as sometimes I can't be bothered with the hassle! Perhaps that's their plan!

PhyllisDietrichson Sat 21-Nov-15 11:04:06

We have to fill out a form, submit receipts and go through finance for EVERYTHING at our school, it's a fiddle but it's compliant.

At yours, there's hasn't been a problem and it suits everyone so far, but it's only a matter of time until a problem does arrive and then you're apparently culpable. We all know there is no PIN sharing on cards, it's not in your job T&Cs and not in the bank's either. Explain to staff that you're responsible and have to do things by the book, current practices are not 'compliant, acceptable, good practice,' whatever. Explain you'll keep £25 petty cash but any thing over, they have to go through a new system. They'll grumble obvs, but you're there to do a job. Always best to follow your training and gut instinct.

TheSnowFairy Sat 21-Nov-15 20:09:19

No, not normal. We use online ordering placed by one person, requests from staff are emailed and signed off before purchase.

In our school, the Finance Manager's card is ok'd by SBM, the SBM's by the HT and the HT's by the governors. There is no way any would be for general use!

FanSpamTastic Sat 21-Nov-15 20:58:09

I am a governor and chair of finance. If I found out that this was going on at our school then I would be very concerned. The whole point of having a finance policy is to protect the school from financial mismanagement and to protect the staff that work there from any suggestion of financial impropriety. In this situation you could have a SBM exploiting the card, covering up the expenditure as being made by other staff and then if questioned blaming other staff for spend that cannot be explained. You must put a stop to this to cover yourself from any suggestion of impropriety. If you have any concerns talk to your chair of finance. If they do not understand why this is a problem then consider whether you need to call your LA finance consultant or if a whistle blowing call is required.

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