What is the PIPS allowance and what can it be spent on?
You will still be paid your stipend (salary) whilst on PIPS.
There are multiple options for funding any reasonable travel and accommodation expenses incurred during your PIPS:
- DTP PIPS allowance
This is available from the DTP to reimburse you for reasonable travel and/or accommodation costs – up to a maximum of £1,000 for the total PIPS duration.
The PIPS allowance can be used only for travel and accommodation. It cannot be used for other items, such as, work clothing or equipment you need to purchase for your placement. If you are likely to incur any of these other costs, it is worth asking your PIPS host if they are willing to cover the costs, make a contribution or perhaps purchase the items on your behalf.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you follow the procurement rules in your home university when booking and paying for travel and accommodation. This is to ensure that you are covered by insurance during your placement. Be aware that there may be additional risk assessments that need to take place, e.g. for lone working, or that there may be specific health and safety or prohibition rules around the use of accommodation sites such as Airbnb. If in doubt, please check initially with your local PIPS contact.
The DTP is unable to provide additional funding for PIPS beyond the £1000 allowance.
- Host organisations
Some host organisations will contribute towards travel and/or accommodation costs, either in whole or in part, so do not be shy about asking. In other cases, the PIPS host organisation may own local accommodation that you can use.
Tax & host funding: Be aware that there are tax implications of an individual student accepting payment from the PIPS host organisation e.g. COVID testing centres will pay people to do the testing. The advice from the BBSRC is that if you accept payment, you will stop being a student and this will change your HMRC tax status, meaning that you may become eligible to pay income tax. (Your stipend is paid tax-free). To avoid this, you should ask the host organisation to pay directly for the costs of accommodation and travel through their own procurement systems. In this way, the funding is not paid to you and you will not have any tax implications that we are aware of. For example some CASE industry partners pay for the accommodation and travel costs directly (without the funding going via the student) so it is possible to do this. Some other PIPS host organisations such as those co-ordinated by the UKRI are also aware of this situation and are set up to provide sufficient travel/accommodation expenses (often >£1000) through their procurement systems.
It is important you clarify with your host organisation, before you make substantial plans to do your placement with them, whether they are able to cover these travel/accommodation costs, what the budget for these expenses is, and that they understand they must be provided in the form of reimbursement of expenses rather than ‘payment’ (for the above tax purposes).
- Funding grants
Ask your supervisor if they are aware of any funding grants you could apply for and if they could help you put together your application.
You are allowed to use your Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) to support the travel and accommodation costs for your PIPS. However, please discuss this first with your supervisor, as you will have to balance this with ensuring that have you sufficient funds for your ‘bench fees’ / consumables over the remaining course of your PhD.
How to make your PIPS cheaper
We appreciate that some parts of the country are more expensive than others in terms of temporary accommodation. We encourage you to think creatively about your PIPS and to seek a placement that will give you the new experience and skills you seek, within the funding parameters. This may mean, for example, seeking a placement closer to your home University that involves daily travel but no accommodation costs. Or perhaps consider a placement where you can stay with relatives or friends – although in this scenario, please be aware that you cannot claim accommodation costs through the DTP PIPS allowance.
We wish to support student ambition and exploration of the full range of PIPS opportunities and we understand that in some cases, students may wish to undertake their PIPS abroad. If you are thinking of undertaking your PIPS abroad, please be mindful of the following:
1/ The UKRI BBSRC expectation is that PIPS will be undertaken within the UK. If you wish to undertake your PIPS abroad, you will need to prove that there is no similar opportunity available in the UK.
2/ The expectation is that you will manage a PIPS abroad (as in the UK) within the standard PIPS allowance, or that you will top up this amount from other sources, if necessary. There is no additional funding from the DTP to support PIPS abroad.
How to claim PIPS expenses
It is vital that you keep all receipts and other evidence of expenditure for accommodation and travel that you have paid for in advance and whilst you are on your PIPS. Expenditure cannot be reimbursed without sufficient evidence. Evidence for accommodation will include things like a formal rental agreement with your landlord and receipts for payment, either monthly or in one lump sum. Evidence for travel includes things such as confirmation of payment of train fares and copies of tickets or car mileage and petrol receipts. An additional piece of evidence useful for all types of expenditure is a scan of your bank statement – make sure you only show us the items we need to see and that you cover up any information that is not relevant to your PIPS claim.
If you are undertaking your PIPS abroad, you will need to convert your expenses payments into pound sterling (£/GBP). In this case, you need to provide evidence of the exchange rate at the time of the financial transaction. This evidence could be, for example, a screenshot of a currency converter website, including the date.
Collect a claim form from your Finance Office or PIPS Contact. Complete the form and submit it to your Finance Officer or PIPS Contact , together with your receipts and other evidence. The exact process may vary depending on your University. If in doubt, check with your PIPS Contact.
Do I have to wait until the end of PIPS to claim?
If you are happy to pay all your expenses then claim them back at the end of your 3-month placement, you can complete a claim form when you return from PIPS.
If it helps your cash-flow, you can submit your claims monthly, or even weekly, during your PIPS. In this case, ensure you collect the number of claim forms you will need before you go on your PIPS, particularly if you will be living away from your normal university base. Complete a claim form at the end of each week/month and post it back to your PIPS Contact, or Finance Officer as relevant, together with your receipts and other evidence of expenditure for that time period.
Please ensure you claim your PIPS expenses back as soon as possible, either during your PIPS or within 3 months of the end of your PIPS. Universities have financial regulations that mean expenses must be processed within certain time frames. It is therefore your responsibility to submit your claims in a timely manner.
What should I do if I can’t afford to pay the upfront costs e.g. a deposit and the first month’s rent plus a monthly travel pass?
If you are required to pay upfront costs, your finance department may be able to give you an advance payment or they will pay the supplier directly. The finance officer will require evidence of costs. Please approach your finance officer via your PIPS contact so they can ensure that the funding comes out of the correct account.
For any other queries about claiming PIPS expenses, please get in touch with your PIPS Contact.