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When employees are travelling on business and are more than five miles away from both their normal place of work and home they are entitled to recompense for the meals that they purchase. This is known as subsistence.

There are four different allowances and in each case the employee is entitled to the lesser of the allowance or the actual cost incurred and claims must be supported by receipts.

Part day - spanning lunch: Absent for more than 5 hours over the lunchtime period
Part day - spanning dinner: Absent for more than 5 hours over the evening period
Part day - including lunch and dinner Absent for more than 10 hours but not overnight
Overnight: Includes breakfast as well as accommodation (higher rate applicable for the London area)

Current subsistence rates are available on the Subsistence Rates page.

The maximum subsistence rates detailed include taxes (e.g. VAT) and gratuities (tips). Gratuities must not be excessive: e.g. <10%, the claimant may write the amount on tip on the receipt if it does not already appear there. These rates apply to all expenditure whether funded by the department or a research grant.

The reasonable cost of meals on trains may be reimbursed in full but no subsistence is payable for any periods when meals and/or accommodation are included in the fare e.g. for air travel or rail sleeper.

Adherence to subsistence rates and exceptional circumstances

The subsistence rates are reviewed and agreed annually by the Finance Committee. It is expected that individuals will make every effort to remain within the approved rates. However, it is accepted there may be occasions when it is not possible to stay within the rates and it is the intention that individuals should not suffer financial loss as a consequence of being required to travel on University business. Therefore, the rates may be exceeded in exceptional circumstances where there is no choice but to exceed the rate (e.g. there is no accommodation available within the preferred rate) or where there is a strong business reason to exceed the rates (e.g. attendance at a conference in a hotel where the rates are in excess of the set rates and it is desirable to stay there in order to foster academic relations).

In such cases, evidence should be retained to support the need to exceed the approved rates. However, in interpreting the University's expenses policy, it must also be remembered that the University is a charity and a recipient of public funds, and seeks value for money in all its activities. The policy is therefore not intended to fund subsistence which might be regarded as lavish or inappropriate use of public/charitable funds. The fact that an individual may have brought particular funds into the University is not a sufficient reason to justify expenditure in excess of the set rates.


To claim complete the Expenses form attaching all the relevant receipts unless under £5 in value and no receipt could be obtained.

Tax implication

Supporting documents must be attached when submitting claims, but they will not have to be included on the P11D form.

If a Head of Department authorises a claim over £5, that is not supported by a receipt (or any other supporting documentation), then this will have to be included on the P11D.

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