Electronic purchasing card (ePC) policy

Information about policy in relation to our electronic purchasing card (ePC).

5. Out of scope expenditure and exclusions

Travel and Subsistence

5.1 Separate procedures and processes apply within government for travel and subsistence (T&S) made on official business by individuals. The responsibility for this rests within the Directorate for People. It is important that the differences in operating arrangements are observed and where doubt exists you should contact your local T&S team or refer to T&S guidance can be found on Saltire

5.2 The T&S chargecard is a credit card covered by the ePC service, which is managed by the T&S Team in the Directorate for People. This card is used primarily by senior officials and those supporting Ministers, to pay for meals, personal incidental expenses, fuel for hire cards and minor ad-hoc hospitality.

5.3 Car hire, air or rail tickets can be paid for using the T&S chargecard, but only in emergencies where it is not possible to use SG contracts. Accommodation can be paid for using the T&S chargecard, but only where it cannot be booked and paid for through the Corporate Travel Management .

5.4 To apply for a charge card you must be a permanent member of SG staff, a SG minister, or an agency who have their travel and subsistence claims processed and paid by the SG travel and subsistence team. Temporary staff, consultants, contractors and other non-permanent staff are not eligible to apply.

5.5 The charge card is issued to an individual and is not transferable. Only the cardholder's own travel and subsistence can be charged to the card. Guidance on applications and usage can be found on Saltire.

Specific exclusions

5.6 Exclusions apply to specific categories of spend which cannot be made with the ePC. These are in place to safeguard business areas from organisational or reputational risk and card users from inappropriate card use.

5.7 Goods and services provided by suppliers are grouped into categories within SDoL, referred to as 'Merchant Category Codes'. There are specific exclusions to the following categories:

  • MCC 13 Personal services
  • MCC 26 Automotive fuel
  • MCC 28 Auto rental
  • MCC 29 Hotels and accommodation
  • MCC 30 Restaurants and bars
  • MCC 32 Leisure activities
  • MCC 34 Cash withdrawals

5.8 For core government, MCC 26, 28, 29 and 30 are covered by T&S arrangements, or through contract or embedded purchases. In some circumstances these exclusions can be opened to meet specific business needs. MCC 13, 29, 30 and 32 have the potential to attract media interest. MCC 34 is permanently excluded - where an attempt is made to withdraw cash or use any other exclusion category the transaction will be blocked automatically by RBS.

5.9 As well as category exclusions there are some other specific exclusions such as;

  • The purchase of alcohol;
  • Purchasing goods and services for away days for staff as these should be held on the Government estate;
  • The ePC should not be used for personal expenditure, if the cardholder has incurred personal expenditure they must immediately email the ePC Mailbox and arrange to refund the costs. In addition if a transaction has been identified by the ePC team that is not within policy the expenditure will be recouped.

5.10 A block can arise if the supplier is part of a larger group of companies that provide a range of goods/services some of which could attract a block. Where a cardholder feels that the block has been applied inappropriately they should contact the ePC Team.

Opening and closing exclusion categories

5.11 Cardholders may request different exception arrangements to help meet business needs. These will need to be agreed with the ePC Team in advance (and where appropriate, the Directorate for People).

5.12 Cardholders can make a case to open or close categories permanently to meet their particular operational need; or open a category to make a specific purchase and then close this again after the purchase has been made.

5.13 An explanation of the requirement and reasoning should be provided, by either the business area Director, Chief Executive or equivalent, to the ePC Team from their relevant business email account.

5.14 The ePC Team retain the right to challenge and decline requests on a case by case basis. In such circumstances, the ePC Team would seek Internal Audit advice prior to reaching a final decision.


Email: epc_mailbox@gov.scot

Back to top