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FErret

Whine club

Thanks to the publication of updated rules for expenses at the Skills Funding Agency, FErret is pleased to announce his first Guide to Making the Most of Publicly Funded Hospitality.

Alas, the maximum claim for entertaining is pound;35, barely enough for roast saddle of "Oisin" red deer with fenugreek onion sauce at the Cinnamon Club, round the corner from the agency's London offices. Stick to the set menu. (Your allowance will go further at Shimla Spice near its Coventry HQ.)

Seasoned expense-account users may opt for the strategy of maximising the expenditure on liquid refreshments, but the bean counters are already on to us, requiring no more than "moderate expenditure on alcohol". And herein lies the ultimate horror.

"Moderate expenditure on alcohol is regarded as 2 to 3 units (approx. half a bottle of wine) per person." Half a bottle as 2.5 units implies a booze content of just 7 per cent: civil servants are being forced to buy Lambrini! Austerity Britain has gone too far.

High and mighty

Over to the University and College Union, which has just published its accounts. Who is drinking the imported Belgian ale and munching on tiger- prawn wraps and who is left with Tesco lager and a stale cheese roll?

Well, a breakdown of expenses claims by the various committees - so, so many committees - shows the HE crowd claims more than twice as much as the frugal bunch in FE. Granted, there are more HE members in the union and proportionally more HE committee members, but the ratio is more like 60:40. The upshot is that if the HE committee claimed proportionally the same amount as FE, it would save nearly pound;6,200, or almost enough for 30 members' annual subs. On the other hand, trebles all round!

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