Let us know if you agree to cookies

We use cookies to give you the best online experience. Please let us know if you agree to all cookies.

Important: Annual renewal opens on 1 September. Check your details are up-to-date on your online account now.

Skip to main navigation

Skip to main content

Witness expenses policy

This policy outlines our principles, rules and thresholds as a non-departmental public body (NDPB) in relation to travel, subsistence and expenses incurred by witnesses and other individuals who may be required to attend hearings, familiarisation visits or other meetings at the request of Social Work England.

Witness expenses policy

Last updated: 28 January 2020


About this policy

Why do we need this policy?

This policy outlines our principles, rules and thresholds as a non-departmental public body (NDPB) in relation to travel, subsistence and expenses incurred by witnesses and other individuals who may be required to attend hearings, familiarisation visits or other meetings at the request of Social Work England.

The policy aims to provide a clear, consistent and accountable framework by which we (Social Work England) can demonstrate our use of resources and deliver services to the public in an effective and efficient manner. This policy will provide guidance regarding:

  • The types of expenditure which can and cannot be reimbursed
  • Ensuring the public interest remains central to the decision-making process
  • Maintaining high ethical standards
  • Demonstrating value for money within the decision making process.

The principles outlined in this policy complement the guidance on good governance as contained with the Corporate Governance Code and Managing Public Money. The witness must always ensure that their travel arrangements comply with the requirements set out in this policy before making a booking or incurring costs for which they intend to make a claim.

Any losses incurred regarding cancelled or unused travel and hotel bookings that cannot be refunded in full, must be notified to the adjudications team immediately. All actual expense claims must be supported by receipts, other than mileage claims.

Who needs to follow this policy and why?

This policy applies to all witnesses and other individuals who may be required to attend hearings.

What’s our policy and how will we implement it?

All requirements and claims for travel, subsistence and expenses must be related to a genuine business need.

Travel

Rail travel

When travelling by rail the witness must always travel standard class, preferably pre-booking their tickets to travel on specific (timed) trains. They may book an open ticket if they have no way of knowing what time their meeting or hearing will finish, in which case they should still book a restricted (timed) ticket for their outward journey.

First class travel can be booked, where there are no standard class facilities to accommodate approved reasonable adjustments, or on the rare occasions when first class travel is cheaper than standard class.

All first-class travel must be pre-approved by the adjudications team(for hearings) or the relevant team(for meetings) before booking. Failure to do so may lead to the request for reimbursement being denied.

Tube, coach and bus travel

All tube, coach and bus fares will be reimbursed as incurred. We will refund the cost of all necessarily incurred journeys. A receipt or statement clearly indicating those journeys made will be required when claiming these expenses.

Taxi travel

We encourage all parties to make use of public transport. Taxi travel does not often represent value for money, therefore use of taxis may only be permitted and reimbursed in the following circumstance:

  • Where no public transport is available within a reasonable walking distance
  • Where the number of passengers dictates this to be cost-efficient
  • Public transport is infrequent and will lead to unreasonable additional travel time
  • Where disability or other special needs requirements would make use of public transport an inappropriate option

Mileage limits and allowances

Mileage allowances are applicable where an individual chooses to use a private vehicle as an alternative to public transport, for their own convenience and there is a benefit to Social Work England in so doing.

Mileage allowance payments

  • Cars = 25 pence (per mile)
  • Motor cycle = 20 pence (per mile)
  • Bicycle = 10 pence (per mile)
  • Passengers= 5 pence (per mile)

Reasonable car parking charges will normally be paid. The mileage allowance covers the full cost of using a private vehicle, for example fuel, insurance, road tax, servicing and wear and tear.

Charges and fines

Individuals will be responsible for ensuring:

  • They have valid travel tickets for their journey
  • Private or hire vehicles are legally parked
  • All necessarily incurred toll or congestion charges are paid prior to reimbursement
  • Any fines incurred by an individual whilst using their vehicle to travel for hearings or meetings, such as a speeding fine or other traffic violation, are paid. We will not reimburse or accept any liability for fines levied as a result of penalty fares, parking tickets or late or non-payment of toll and congestion charges.

Subsistence

Day subsistence

All necessarily incurred day subsistence expenses will be reimbursed on an actual cost basis within the following limits:

  • Duration of qualifying travel and/or absence in that day is 5 hours or more = £5.00
  • Duration of qualifying travel and/or absence in that day is 10 hours or more = £10.00
  • Duration of qualifying travel and/or absence in that day is 15 hours or more = £25.00

The period of absence should be calculated on the actual time of absence based on departure time from home or office and time of arrival back to home or office, less the usual journey time from home to office.

Subsistence rates are fixed amounts toward the costs of meals and refreshments where the witness is away from their home or normal place of work in the performance of role as a witness.

Where meals and refreshments are provided by us, they will not be able to claim the equivalent allowance. Valid receipts will be required in order to claim actual costs spent.

Overnight accommodation

Overnight accommodation covers an absence of 24 hours and where necessary will be arranged and paid for by us. Where the witness has had to arrange their own overnight accommodation, we will reimburse actual rates up to the maximum overnight allowance (£75 per night).

Where the cost of a meal is not included within the overnight rate these can be claimed in line with the subsistence rates contained within this policy. Witnesses must settle the balance of their bill upon departure, covering any other reasonable costs incurred on departure.

Witnesses will be reimbursed for all necessarily incurred overnight incidental costs on an actual basis subject to this policy and the limits contained therein.

Overnight incidental expenses

Incidental overnight costs are personal (non-business) expenses incurred by an individual while travelling overnight for business purposes. Incidental expenses may include buying newspapers, paying for laundry, phone or internet charges.

Incidental expenses will be reimbursed on an actual cost basis per night up to the following limits:

  • All UK locations = £5 (overnight limit)

Child and other caring responsibilities

Child and dependent care costs will be reimbursed up to a maximum daily rate of £65 per child or dependent while an individual is away from home. Child or dependant costs will only be reimbursed when the care is not normally in place for that period of time and it is required in addition to the normal contracted hours of the replacement care giver.

Care costs may only be claimed where an individual is the parent, or has daily responsibility for, the child or dependant in respect of whom the allowance is claimed. Payment will only be made if the replacement care giver is registered with the appropriate agency (for example Ofsted, CQC), and only against a valid invoice addressed to the individual with parental or dependant responsibility.

Personal assistants

We will reimburse the cost of a personal assistant accompanying an individual to a meeting, hearing or event in respect of Social Work England, where the individual’s attendance is required and where the cost of the support worker is not covered by Access to Work funding.

Reimbursement will be subject to receipt of an invoice. Payment will be made to the individual required to attend. We are not able to pay personal assistants directly. All necessarily incurred travel and subsistence costs of the personal assistant will be provided for by us subject to this policy and the limits contained therein.

Witness loss of earnings

All ordinary witnesses will be entitled to claim for the period for which they are required to attend and/or provide evidence at a hearing if:

  • their employer does not pay them for this time or
  • they suffer financial loss, for example they are self-employed.

If employed, witnesses can claim the actual amount lost on the basis of net earnings (after tax and national insurance have been deducted). To claim loss of earnings, witnesses must get their employer to complete this section of the claim certifying the loss of earnings.

Witnesses will need to submit their claim once they have given evidence and/or are no longer required to attend the hearing. To claim a loss of earnings or substitution, self-employed witnesses must provide some evidence of self-employment, for example business card or letterhead with your name shown, firms stamp, tax or VAT reference, and evidence of loss, for example accountants’ letters, certified financial statements.

Loss of earnings for expert and professional witnesses will be agreed in advance of any preparation for and attendance at a hearing. All claims for loss of earnings will be assessed on the evidence provided and in line with value for money and the principles of the HMT Managing Public Money guidance, and failure to provide suitable evidence as identified within this policy may render your claim invalid.

Witnesses will be responsible for declaring any reimbursement or loss of earnings income to the Inland Revenue.

Other people attending hearings

Other people, in certain circumstances, may receive allowances just like witnesses. This will be at the discretion of the adjudications team where it is believed that it would assist the witness in giving best evidence. This should be agreed in advance of attendance. Examples of allowable expenses and allowances include but are not limited to the following:

  • parents accompanying child witnesses
  • People accompanying elderly or infirm witnesses
  • Witnesses attending the hearing venue for the purposes of familiarisation visits

People who cannot be paid

No allowances, expenses or fees can be paid to:

  • Police officers attending in their official capacity
  • Prison officers attending in their official capacity

Payments by us are limited to expenses, allowances, and fees incurred by attendance at hearings or elsewhere in connection with giving evidence. The adjudications team retain discretion to reimburse expenses where evidence has not been given but attendance has been necessary.

Non-reclaimable expenses

Non-reclaimable expenses are identified as follows:

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Tobacco products
  • Personal gifts
  • Hairdressing
  • Hire or purchase of clothing
  • Ancillary hotel services, for example spa access or pay-per-view
  • Traffic or parking fines and violations

Please note the above list is not exhaustive. If in doubt, please consult your case hearing officer. If this policy isn’t followed, the most appropriate course of action will be agreed between the policy owner and the HR manager, dependent on the circumstances.

Roles and responsibilities

The claimant

  • You must always ensure that your travel arrangements comply with the requirements set out in this policy before making a booking or incurring costs for which you intend to make a claim. Any losses incurred regarding cancelled or unused travel and hotel bookings that cannot be refunded in full, must be notified to the adjudications team immediately.
  • All actual expense claims must be supported by receipts, other than mileage claims.

Line manager, budget holder or executive director

  • Within the requirements of this policy, the adjudications team are free to decide the best course of action for the performance of case hearings. All expenditure incurred will be met from their respective budget.
  • The adjudications team must authorise all expenditure incurred or reimbursed under this policy. This includes:
  1. Ensuring that travel and associated expenses are wholly necessary for the effective and efficient delivery of our business or objectives
  2. Ensuring that proposed bookings and/or claims are in line with requirements set out in this policy, for example hotel costs are within the agreed thresholds, subsistence claims are for actual receipted amounts within expenditure limits and reflect the actual hours committed in respect of the specific claim being made.

Finance directorate

  • Ensure that all claims are in line with the requirements of this policy
  • Validate the coding of all expenses to the specific areas of work or budget lines
  • Ensure all expenses claims are supported by receipt evidence
  • Where any errors within a claim are highlighted, or misuse of the policy is evident:
  1. act to rectify the error and recover any monies that may have been overclaimed
  2. monitor future claims for compliance with this policy
  3. take further any training or disciplinary action where necessary.

Accounting officer

The accounting officer’s responsibilities apply to the whole organisation and underpin the operational and strategic achievement of objectives. The accounting officer’s responsibilities are summarised by the standards listed below:

Regularity and propriety

Securing Treasury approval for any expenditure outside the normal delegations.

Affordability and sustainability

Respecting agreed budgets and avoiding unaffordable longer-term commitments, taking a proportionate view about other demands for resources.

Value for money

Ensuring that the organisation’s procurement, projects and processes are systematically evaluated to provide confidence about suitability, effectiveness, prudence, quality and good value.

Control

The accounting officer should personally approve and confirm their agreement to all statutory documents, committee papers and major project or policy initiatives before they proceed.

Management of opportunity and risk

To achieve the right balance commensurate with the organisation’s business and risk appetite.

Learning from experience

Using internal feedback, for example through managing projects and programmes, and from right across the public sector.

Accounting accurately for the organisation’s financial position and transactions

To ensure that its published financial information is transparent and up to date, and that the organisation’s efficiency in the use of resources is tracked and recorded.

Employee travel, subsidence and expenses policy 

Data protection, equality and diversity

A data protection impact assessment (DPIA) and equality impact assessment have been completed for this policy.

More information

If you have a query about this policy, please contact Phil Bowden, head of adjudication.

Definitions

Expert witness

An expert witness is a witness whose level of specialised knowledge or skill in a particular field qualifies them to present their opinion about the facts of a case. An expert may give an opinion by virtue of education, training, certification, skills or experience.

Mileage allowance payment

Payments made to cover the usage of a private vehicle. for business travel.

NDPB (non-departmental public body)

A body which has a role in the process of national government but is not a government department or part of one and which accordingly operates to a greater or lesser extent at arm’s length from ministers. NDPBs have different roles, including those that advise ministers and those which carry out an executive or regulatory function. They work within a strategic framework set by ministers.

Ordinary witness

An ordinary witness is a witness to fact –a witness who is neither a professional nor expert and who gives evidence based on their first-hand knowledge of events relevant to a hearing.

Professional witness

A ‘professional witness’ is defined as ‘a witness practising as a member of the legal or medical profession, accountant or dentist.

Propriety

Meeting high standards of public conduct, including robust governance and the relevant parliamentary expectations, including transparency.

Regularity

Compliance with relevant legislation, delegated authorities and following guidance contained within this policy.

Subsistence

Meals and any other necessary costs of travelling, for example parking charges, tolls and congestion charges.

VAT (valued added tax)

A consumption tax placed on goods or services whenever value is added at each stage of the supply chain, from creation to point of sale or consumption.

Value for money (VfM)

Value for money is the achievement of the most desirable outcome given expressed or implied restrictions or constraints, for example financial resources, time.

Back to top