Scottish Public Finance Manual

The Scottish Public Finance Manual (SPFM) is issued by the Scottish Ministers to provide guidance on the proper handling and reporting of public funds.

Annex: losses and special payments

Classification of losses and special payments




Cash losses. Physical losses of cash and equivalents (e.g. bank notes, credit cards, electronic transfers, payable orders)


Bookkeeping losses

  • because of unvouched or incompletely vouched payments, including cases where vouchers are missing
  • because of charges to clear inexplicable or erroneous debit balances

Exchange rate fluctuations. Losses due to fluctuations in exchange rates or revaluations of currencies

Losses of pay, allowances and superannuation benefits paid to civil servants and members of staff of relevant sponsored bodies:

  • overpayments due to miscalculation, misinterpretation of acts regulations or scheme rules or the full facts not being known
  • unauthorised issues e.g. payments not admissible under the acts, regulations or scheme rules
  • losses arising from other causes, e.g. non-disclosure of full facts by the beneficiary, short of proven fraud

Losses arising from overpayments of grants, subsidies etc. arising from miscalculation, misinterpretation of acts, regulations or scheme rules, or the full facts not being known.

Losses arising from failure to make adequate charges for the use of property or services. (See separate guidance on Fees and Charges)

Losses of assets, stores and equipment:

  • because of fraud (including theft), whether or not it has been possible to charge anyone with an offence, arson or sabotage, or any other deliberate act (including repairable damage caused maliciously to buildings, stores; etc. which is not the subject of an identifiable legal claim against some person)
  • losses arising from other causes e.g. fire (other than arson), weather damage, accidents beyond the control of any responsible person, deterioration caused by some defect in administration


Fruitless payments and constructive losses


Claims waived or abandoned


Special payments:

  • extra-contractual payments to contractors
  • compensation payments
  • extra-statutory and extra-regulatory payments
  • special severance payments
  • ex-gratia payments


 Page reviewed: March 2019

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