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Gifts and hospitality guidance (HRP 62)

Here we provide the council's guidance to its officers on dealing with offers of cash, gifts and hospitality from customers, contractors and those the Council regulates.

This guidance is part of our Counter Fraud and Corruption Strategy.

1.  Introduction

1.1. This note sets out the Council's guidance on dealing with offers of cash, gifts and hospitality from customers, contractors and those the Council regulates.

2.  Why does the council need guidance on gifts and hospitality?

2.1. The purpose of this guidance is to protect officers and the Council as a whole. In local government we need to be very careful to maintain public confidence in our own and the Council's actions. We are subject to public scrutiny and perception. 

2.2. If you have any doubts about an offer of any gift or hospitality seek the advice of your Head of Service or Director. You should always record the offer of cash, gifts or hospitality in the Register in the Legal Section.

3.  What if I am offered a fee or reward?

3.1. It is a criminal offence for any local government officer to accept any fee or reward other than his proper remuneration.  Any "fee or reward" can include money, gifts, presents, bribes or vouchers. 

3.2. Therefore, never accept cash or vouchers.  Even if you have declined the offer always record in the Gifts Register the fact that it has been offered.

4.  Can I accept gifts?

4.1. As a general principle, you should not accept gifts.  You should politely and tactfully refuse offers of gifts or return them to the giver as soon as possible.  If the refusal or return of a gift would cause offence then details of the gift should be recorded in the Gifts Register and the gifts forwarded to the Executive Support Team.  The gifts will be raffled and the money donated to charity.

4.2. As a general rule, you should not accept gifts from:

  • Contractors or potential contractors i.e. persons or businesses who supply or want to supply goods or services to the Council
  • Those the Council regulates i.e. persons or businesses which it licenses or gives permissions or consents.

4.3. Gifts of the following type may be accepted:

  • Modest gifts of a promotional nature, e.g. calendars, pens, articles for use in the office
  • A modest gift on the conclusion of a courtesy visit to a business or which are presented at civic or ceremonial occasions
  • A modest gift presented to everyone at a conference or seminar

These exceptions apply only to modest gifts. 

Expensive gifts should not be accepted.

Gifts which are intended for the Council as a corporate body or for a particular service area may be accepted, but not for personal use.  Such gifts must be recorded in the Register and forwarded to the Executive Support Team.

5.  Can I accept hospitality?

5.1. As a general principle hospitality should not be accepted. Hospitality is more likely to be acceptable when it is offered to a group rather than to just one individual. In any case, you should consider:

  • The person, business or organisation offering the hospitality
  • The scale and nature of the hospitality
  • The timing of the hospitality in relation to decisions to be made by the Council

5.2. Some examples where it may be appropriate to accept hospitality are:

  • Working lunches/dinner if:
    • You and others are working on a project together
    • You and others are partners in community issues e.g. Health Authority, Police etc.
    • It is necessary for you to be able to carry out your job effectively
  • Customary lunches/dinners at conferences or seminars where there are numerous guests
  • Civic or ceremonial occasions when representing the Council or accompanying the Chairman or the Council's representative.

5.2. Some examples where it will not be appropriate to accept hospitality are:

  • Expensive meals, dances, other entertainments, especially where these events have nothing to do with your job
  • Paid or concessionary holidays, travel or accommodation
  • Other concessionary rates which are not openly and as a matter of practice available equally to other organisations
  • Frequent hospitality from one source

6.  How do I record offers of cash, gifts and hospitality?

6.1. Always record the offer of cash and the offer or receipt of any gift or hospitality in the Gifts Register.  Forward any gifts which you felt obliged to accept to the Executive Support Team.  These gifts will be raffled and the money donated to charity.

6.2. If you have any questions on any part of this guidance do ask your Line Manager, Director or the Monitoring Officer.


Last update April 2019