Rules and conditions Rules and conditions


  1. Introduction
  2. Purchasing Policy
  3. Raising a Purchase Requisition
  4. Who can Authorise Orders
  5. Raising the Purchase Order
  6. All Amendments to Purchase Orders
  7. Exceptions to Purchase Order Procedure
  8. Receipt of Goods or Service
  9. Invoice Certification
  10. Housekeeping

Annex 1 - Purchase Requisition Form (PDF)

Annex 2 - Duplicate Invoice Checklist (PDF)

1. Introduction

This Procedure explains the procedures for raising orders for goods and services, receipting goods and certification of invoices for payment.  Members of staff whose duties involve the requisitioning or ordering of goods and/or services should be familiar with the contents of this Procedure along with:

As noted in Financial Regulations (3.2), all employees engaged in any financial transaction, eg. purchase of goods and services, must use UEA systems for recording and processing transactions; this includes the use of the UEA staff email system for recording all related electronic correspondence.

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2. Purchasing Policy

The University attaches great importance to securing value for money on all purchases.

Before initiating a purchase order, members of staff must ensure that they have complied with the University's Procurement Policy which is available on the Procurement Intranet. Briefly, this requires:

  • The use of suppliers on the Goods and Services Catalogue wherever practicable; 
  • Where the goods or services required are not available from catalogue and the value of the order exceeds:
    • £5,000 that three written or e-mail quotes are obtained and that the lowest price is accepted, or the reasons for accepting a higher quote are recorded;
    • £25,000 that the Procurement team is consulted as to the method of tendering the requirement, the tender list and the conditions of contract. Normally a sealed-bid tender exercise will be needed. (NB:  Purchases over the certain thresholds are the subject of strict procedures set out in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, further information on which is available from the Procurement team).
    • Where the goods or services required are not available from a Preferred Supplier and the value of the order is less than £5,000, the requisitioner should first check whether a supplier has already been set up on UBW. If not the payment can be made on UBW as a "one-off supplier"

The Procurement Team will assist in the preparation, issue, return and evaluation of tenders if requested. Each purchase is treated as a joint exercise with the School or Department taking responsibility for providing a technical specification and evaluation of tenders.  The aim is to provide the user with the best value for their money and not necessarily the cheapest deal.

Members of staff involved in selecting suppliers or contractors are required to act in a fair, honest and transparent manner and should respect the confidentiality of information (including prices) supplied to them.  They should not seek, nor accept, any personal gift, hospitality or favour as a result of any dealings (before or after placing an order) with any supplier or contractor other than minor gifts of no intrinsic value or reasonable hospitality of a level likely to be returned by the University.

Members of staff involved in selecting suppliers or contractors must not discriminate in favour of any supplier or contractor because of any personal relationship or financial interest in that business.  Nor shall members of staff discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnic origin, age, disability or religious belief of any officer, employee or agent of any potential supplier or contractor.

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3. Raising a Purchase Requisition

All orders for goods or services must be initiated using the UEA’s financial system UBW located at The Purchase Requisition should clearly show:

  • Name of person requiring the goods or service
  • The chargecode to be charged
  • Suggested Supplier
  • Where delivery is required
  • Any Special Instructions (eg when delivery is required and delivery instructions including any requirements for off-loading such as tail-lift truck, etc)
  • Any part number or catalogue code
  • Pack size
  • Quantity required
  • Description (NB:  A clear description should be given to assist those receiving the goods and for management reporting - even if the supplier only uses catalogue numbers, or if you are referring to a quote or attachment).
  • Price (per pack) - if estimated this should be stated on the requisition.

The Purchase Requisition should then be signed by the person requesting the goods or service.  If the value of the purchase exceeds £5,000 and the suggested supplier is not a Preferred Supplier, the Purchase Requisition should be accompanied by a summary of the quotes or tenders received and an explanation of the factors considered in awarding the business. 

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Engaging the services of a Personal Services Company or individual
When the purchase order is for the engagement of services, consideration needs to be given as to whether this could fall within the “off-Payroll Worker Legislation”. The UBW workflow process includes a form to ascertain if this legislation is triggered by this engagement and it is the responsibility of the engager to ensure that the form it is completed correctly and the University’s obligation with regards to this legislation is met. See IR35 guidance


4. Who can Authorise Orders?

Only employees properly authorised by the Head of Spending Unit in accordance with FP001 (Authorised Signatories) may authorise requests for the purchase of goods or services.  The Head of Spending Unit may impose limits, either as to the value or type of goods or services which may be ordered by particular employees.

All orders will go for electronic approval in UBW based on the authorised signatories for the chargecode you have used on the requested requisition. These will then go forward for financial electronic approval from that chargecodes spending unit.

In electronically approving the requisition, the requisitioner and the Authorised Signatory are confirming that:

  • The goods and/or services are required for the purposes of the University;
  • The University's Procurement Policy has been complied with;
  • There are sufficient funds available in the budget or project to cover the purchase price;
  • In the case of hazardous goods (as defined by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002), that appropriate arrangements, including a risk assessment (unless one already exists), have been made for their receipt, handling and storage.

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5. Raising the Purchase Order

All requisitions must be entered into ABW, filling in the standard requisition screen with all relevant information. Once saved this will provide an eight digit requisition number. This number is only for the requisition and NOT a purchase order number. Once all approvals have taken place from the budget approvers and financial approvers ABW will assign the requisition an eight digit Purchase Order number and will email the supplier the details of the requisition.

An email will be sent to you by ABW informing you of the Purchase Order No. once it has been sent to the supplier, alternatively you can view this on ABW by running the appropriate report.

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6. Amendments to Purchase Orders

From time to time it may be necessary to change some detail of the goods or service after the Purchase Order has been sent to the supplier.  Any change should be confirmed to the supplier or contractor by amending the Purchase Order in ABW and entering YES into the “Amendment to go out” field.

If the change materially increases the price of the item the amendment will go out into ABW for approval in the same way as the requisition did when it was raised.

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7. Exceptions to Purchase Order Procedure

The general rule is that all orders shall be placed on official (ABW) Purchase Order.  However, the following exceptions to the normal procedures may arise:

7.1  Emergencies

In exceptional circumstances, for instance in cases of genuine operational emergency, it may be necessary to order goods or services out of hours.  Wherever practical, a UEA Purchase Order No. should be obtained from the faculty or department finance office and this should be quoted to the supplier.  In all such cases the purchase should be confirmed immediately by raising a Purchase Requisition which should be clearly endorsed as being confirmatory (and quote the Purchase Order No allocated, if applicable).  A confirmation order will be sent to the supplier for their records.

7.2  Purchase Card

Each Faculty Finance Office together with some departments and individuals have access to a Purchase Card.  In some cases, such as on-line bookings, low-value foreign purchases, or one-off purchases (up to £1,000) from suppliers not already set-up on the finance system; it may be appropriate to place the order using the Purchase Card rather than raising an official ABW Order.

The cardholder will require an authorised Purchase Requisition or some other written instruction before placing an order using the Purchase Card.

7.3  Petty Cash

Petty Cash can be used to purchase small value items only up to a value of £25.00 or such higher figure as the Director of Finance, Planning & Governance may agree in writing with the Head of an individual Spending Unit.  In this case staff must comply with the procedures set out in FP005 - Cash Payments Procedure

None of the exceptions set out above may be used to avoid compliance with the University's Procurement Policy referred to at paragraph 2, nor do they relieve staff of their obligations in respect of authorising purchases under paragraph 4.

7.4  Travel Expenses

Reimbursement of staff expense is limited by a formal agreement with HMRC to travel costs and incidental expenses.  Staff Expense forms must not be used as an alternative to the purchasing procedures set out above and the University reserves the right to refuse any such reimbursement.

Members of staff travelling on University business are allowed to claim reimbursement of incidental purchases made in the course of their trip, on production of an original bill/receipt.  This will normally be limited to travel, accommodation and meals/refreshments.  However, there may be occasions when it is more effective to purchase a low-value item during a trip.  Permissible examples might include a book being sold at a symposium, or bulb for a data projector.

As far as is practicable, staff should purchase travel tickets and accommodation in advance of their trip, using the purchasing procedure detailed above.  All faculties have a purchase card facility to order tickets on-line once a Purchase Requisition has been approved.

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8. Receipt of Goods or Services

8.1  Wherever practicable goods and services should be received and checked by someone other than the person who requested them or the budget holder or PI.

8.2  Normally goods will be accompanied by a delivery or consignment note which should  quote an official Purchase Order No.  Staff should not accept delivery of goods unless this is quoted, or they can establish who has ordered them.  The delivery company will ask you to sign for them and in doing so you accept responsibility for delivering them to the person who ordered them.  As well as your signature you should print your name and school or department and the date.  Unless you are able to examine the contents on delivery you should endorse the delivery note as "UNEXAMINED" (and if the package is damaged "PACKAGE DAMAGED").  You must obtain a copy of the signed delivery note and pass it and the package to the person to whom it is addressed - if not addressed to anyone in particular the faculty or departmental finance office will be able to tell you who raised the requisition.

8.3  Once the requisitioner receives the goods they must immediately check that the goods are correct, complete and undamaged, even if they are not required for immediate use.  In the event of any error or damage you must immediately inform the supplier (confirmed in writing or by e-mail) and arrange for the incorrect or damaged goods to be replaced.  All correspondence should be copied to the faculty or departmental finance office so that any invoice can be placed on hold.

8.4  In some cases the error or damage may be such that a replacement may be unnecessary or impractical. In such cases you may agree to retain the goods, subject to a reduction in the price.  Again all correspondence should be copied to the faculty or departmental finance office so that any invoice can be held pending receipt of a credit note.

8.5 Once the requisitioner has checked that the goods/services are satisfactory these should be goods receipted on ABW using the Goods Receipt section.

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9. Invoice Certification

9.1  All invoices should be addressed to the relevant faculty or departmental finance office and should quote the UEA Purchase Order No.  Any invoice not addressed to the University of East Anglia (or relevant subsidiary) or not quoting a valid Order No. should be returned to the supplier for correction.  Copy invoices should not normally be accepted.  If payment is to be made against a copy the certifying officer must attach and complete a 'Duplicate Invoice Checklist' to the copy before entering it on to the financial management system (see Annex 2).

9.2  On receipt of a valid invoice the faculty or departmental finance office will enter the details onto the Financial Management System. 

9.3  If the faculty or departmental finance office uses the receipting facility in the financial management system any goods or services delivered will be shown.  In this case the invoice can be 'matched' to the order and receipt and certified for payment.  If the goods or services have not yet been delivered the invoice should be held until delivery is confirmed.

9.4  For faculty or departmental finance offices not using the receipting facility, a manual check of the delivery notes referred at 8.5 and 8.6 will have to be undertaken.

9.5  If the price does not agree with the order, the following actions are available:

  • Where the order was the subject of a quote or a current catalogue price with a preferred supplier (or where the budget-holder of PI does not accept a price increase under point 3 below) the certifying officer should obtain a credit note for the difference from the supplier and enter this on to the financial management system before the invoice;
  • For small variances (where the invoice price exceeds the order price by less than 5% and £25 the invoice can be accepted by entering a password.
  • Where the discrepancy exceeds the above limits (or any lower local limit) the certifying officer must confirm in writing (or by e-mail) with the original budget-holder or PI that the increase is acceptable.  The order should then be amended and the invoice certified. 

If any dispute cannot be resolved with the supplier you should refer the matter to the Purchasing Office in a timely manner so as to avoid the expense of the supplier placing the University account on hold (suspending any further deliveries) or issuing recovery proceedings.

If any supplier is found to regularly overcharge on its invoices, this too should be brought to the attention of the Purchasing Office so that appropriate action can be taken to reduce the cost of querying invoices and processing credit notes.

9.6  Once a batch of invoices has been posted on to the financial management system, they should be fastened into a yellow folder which should be endorsed with the batch number, date of posting, number of invoices and posting user and sent to the Creditors Section, Finance Division in the Registry.

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10. Housekeeping

10.1 The financial management system will automatically 'close' an order once the total quantity ordered has been invoiced (or the total value if it was entered as a service).  From time to time an order may remain open either because the total quantity (or value) has not been invoiced or because a credit note has been entered after the final invoice.  Open Orders should be reviewed on a regular basis and, if no further invoices are expected, closed using the 'Complete PO' transaction.

10.2 At the year end a list of open orders can be obtained through the PO Enquiry screen. Each purchase order must be checked individually to ascertain if the goods/services were received before the year-end, but not yet invoiced.  These amounts should be added to the Creditors List and passed to Finance in accordance with the instructions on the Year End Procedures.

One of the features of any good financial process is that the work involved in any activity is split between two or more people, so that the work of one person acts as a check or control upon the work of another person.  This is known as Internal Check.  It is one of the most important ways in which financial processes can be designed to reduce the possibility of loss through errors or fraud.

The general requirement of sound Internal Check, as far as ordering and invoice processing is concerned, is that the three key activities of authorising an order, taking delivery of the ordered goods or services when delivered, and authorising the relevant invoice should, as far as possible, each be carried out by a different person.

Where staffing arrangements in the Unit do not make this practical, the Director of Finance, Planning & Governance should be consulted, who will, where satisfied, agree alternative arrangements in writing.  You must not subsequently change such arrangements without the approval in writing of the Director of Finance, Planning & Governance.  Whilst a different way of doing the job may seem less trouble to you, it may only achieve this at the expense of weakening or removing internal checks.

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