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Departmental Travel

Volume 506: debated on Monday 1 March 2010

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will publish the travel guidance issued to staff of each of his Department's agencies and non-departmental public bodies. (314926)

I have approached the chief executives of the Insolvency Service, Companies House, the National Measurement Office and the Intellectual Property Office and they will respond to my hon. Friend directly.

Travel guidance issued to the staff of the Department’s non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

For travel guidance issued to NDPB staff, the chief executive of each body should be contacted. A list of the Department’s NDPBs can be found at the following link, under BERR’s and DIUS’s public bodies directories 2009:

Letter from Gareth Jones, dated 26 February 2010:

I am replying on behalf of Companies House to your Parliamentary Question tabled 28 January 2010, UIN 314926 to the Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Companies House follows the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills published guidelines for its own travel guidance issued to staff.

Letter from Stephen Speed, dated 26 February 2010:

The Minister of State, for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has asked me to reply to your question if he will publish the travel guidance issued to staff of each of his Department’s agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

Travel guidance is in the Insolvency Service staff handbook (Employment Matters) and this is published on the Intranet. It is planned that this will also be published on the Insolvency Service’s Internet site within the next six weeks in accordance with the Freedom of Information publishing requirements.

Letter from Peter Mason, dated 26 February 2010:

I am responding in respect of the National Measurement Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled on 28 January asking the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, about the travel guidance issued to staff in the Department’s agencies and non-departmental public bodies.

Please find attached the travel guidance issued to NMO staff.

NMO Guidance on Managing and Authorizing Staff Travel

Managing and authorising staff travel

The nature of the Agency’s work means that there is a need for some staff to undertake business travel on occasions.

Given the substantial impact that travel costs have on the Agency’s budget, and to minimise environmental damage through CO2 emissions, business travel should be kept to a minimum.

Budget Holders, line managers, staff and finance all have a role to play and this section sets out these roles.

Budget Holders

The role of Budget holders, in particular Business Team Managers, is to make sure that:

budget estimates for travel and subsistence are based on a critical and realistic assessment of need

line managers work within the budget ceiling

there is flexibility in the allocation of funds between line managers

regular information is made available to enable effective management of staff travel.

staff take full advantage of the services and discounts available from departmental travel providers.

Line managers

Line managers are responsible for:

day-to-day authorisation of travel requests (where they have specific delegated authority)

day-to-day approval of claims

keeping the cost of travel and subsistence within their delegated authorities

deciding who carries out particular tasks involving travel

communicating the need to plan travel responsibly and minimise travel costs.

As part of their role line managers need to consider whether travelling is really necessary to meet specific work objectives.

If travel is absolutely necessary, particular attention should be paid to:

the number and grades of staff travelling

the frequency and duration of travel.

Line managers are responsible for deciding who carries out specific travel-related activities, and should ensure that travel is conducted by the most suitable method available, with consideration for the cost incurred and the environmental impact.

Line managers should use the information on claim forms to check:

the agreed method of travel was used

allowances claimed are correct and comply with departmental rules

overall costs (in time and money) were kept to a minimum.

Line managers must make sure that staff:

inform them of the purpose and details of all visits in advance of booking travel, to help control costs

plan travel efficiently, for instance arranging a full day’s appointments in one location

rather than visit on two successive part-days

plan itineraries to reduce costs and/or mileage

book early to secure whatever cheaper fares are available and take advantage of offers available through recognised booking agents and operators

Travellers and travel bookers

Travellers and travel bookers must make sure that any staff travel arrangements make the best overall use of official time, fares and subsistence. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that they have adequate funds, the correct form is completed (with receipts attached) and to obtain authorisation before submitting to finance for payment. Payment may be delayed if the form is not completed adequately.

In order to choose the most appropriate method of travel, travellers should bear in mind the following:

Staff who would normally qualify for first-class rail travel should consider travelling second class where the dearer fare offers no practical advantage, eg for short journeys and for longer journeys on routes which are known not to be crowded.

For staff required to travel 6500 miles or more by car each year it is as cheap to provide a lease car as to pay standard rate mileage allowance. For staff with an annual mileage of 9000 miles and above, a lease car can provide savings of up to a third.

Self-drive hire as a short-term measure may sometimes be the most economical option.

Taxis can be cost-effective for short journeys. Used discriminately, they can save much official time, especially with more than one person travelling. However, travellers should make sensible choices based on comparisons with available public transport before opting for travel by taxi.

Car sharing will substantially reduce travel costs.

For longer journeys travel by air is usually cheaper, taking into account savings in travelling time and overnight subsistence. Similarly, overnight sleeper services can cut travel costs.

Where there is a need to work on a Journey rail travel offers advantages which may outweigh the savings from cheaper forms of travel

All staff should try and share examples of best practice.


It is the responsibility of the Finance team to:

check that claims follow guidance and that they have received all the necessary documentation required to make payment and to enable the correct Business Team and service to be charged—and follow up any insufficient documentation;

keep records for audit purposes: and

make payment.

Letter from John Alty, dated 1 March 2010:

I am responding in respect of the Intellectual Property Office to your Parliamentary Question tabled 28 January 2010, to the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is a Trading Fund and Executive Agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The IPO publishes its travel guidance to staff via its staff handbook, on its internal intranet site.