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AI and Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Health and Care - Finance Guidance


This guidance provides advice on finance planning for applicants to the Artificial Intelligence and Racial and Ethnic Inequalities in Health and Care funding call.

The information entered in the finance section should provide an analysis of the total funds requested to undertake the research proposed and should be based on current prices. These costs will be used to assess value for money.

It is in your best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. You must provide a clear and full justification for all costs including NHS costs that will be incurred. You must also ensure that you include all costs including those required to secure good research management.

  • When justifying staff costs you should also provide the % amount of time input of each member of staff and link this to the specific area/work package of the proposed study where this input will be taking place
  • Costs must be provided at current prices. An adjustment for inflation may be made annually thereafter at rates set by the Department of Health and Social Care, NHSX or the Health Foundation. Where Health Foundation funds are being used to fund, or part fund, an individual’s salary over more than one year, the amount of increase will be capped at the level of RPI for the latest month within the period of application window for which RPI figures will become available in time to submit an application. Whilst allowances for incremental increases should be included on the form, nationally or locally agreed pay increases should be excluded.
  • Years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the proposed research. For example, if your research is expected to start on 1 June 2021 then its second year starts 1 June 2022.
  • Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation may be requested to support the application at a later date.
  • Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their partner organisation(s).
  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any element of the research which is to be paid to another organisation.
  • NHS support costs, including costs for Social Care research, are funded via NIHR Local Clinical Research Networks (LCRNs). Researchers should contact their local NHS R&D department initially for advice on NHS support costs and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS R&D department, contact the LCRN senior manager. Visit the LCRN website for more information.
  • All applications are expected to have appropriate NHS, HEI, third sector or other partner organisation input into the finance form.

Please note that whilst the applicable percentages will be used to calculate the maximum award payable, the programme reserves the right to award less than this maximum where it is considered appropriate.

Information on different types of organisations

Sub-category 1, funded by the Health Foundation

Sub-category 1, funded by the Health Foundation will not include indirect costs for any type of organisation.

As a charity, the Health Foundation will fund only the direct costs of the research (up to 100% for any organisation type). They do not fund overheads. Furthermore, the research will be supported as a charitable award and as such is not liable for VAT. Where an award-holder requires sub-contracting an activity to a third party then VAT on the stated sub-contract is allowed and should be included within the budget for the award.

Sub-category 2, funded by NHSX 

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should determine the Full Economic Cost (FEC) of their research using the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology. For HEIs, up to 80% of FEC will be paid, provided that TRAC methodology has been used.

Other partner organisations

If you are another partner organisation (e.g. NHS, social care, third section, please fill in direct costs and indirect costs. Indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form. Up to 100% of costs will be paid.

Award Details

  • Please ensure that you select the correct organisation type for each Organisation under ‘Org Type’ as this impacts on the level of funding provided. Staff employed by a Higher Education Institution (HEI) are funded at 80% of cost and staff employed by NHS, commercial or other partner organisation at up to 100% of cost.

Direct costs

These are costs that are specific to the research, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. They should comprise:

Staff Posts and Salaries 

This section presents an overview of salary and associated on-costs for the applicant(s) contributing to the research.

  • Please include all members of staff working on the research
  • If there are any co-applicant(s) whose costs are not being claimed you should still include their details within this section, but don’t include any actual costs.
  • The Apprenticeship Levy can be included in the salary costs from 1 April 2017 where relevant.

Please note that ‘Shared Staff Costs’ (which is located under directly allocated costs in some other funders’ applications) should also be included here. These are costs of an institution’s research resources which can be charged to the research on the basis of estimated use, rather than actual costs. These may include: IT technicians, laboratory staff, and costs of pooled staff efforts.

Annual Costs of Staff Posts

This section specifies the annual costs of each applicant contributing to the research, including normal salary increments broken down individually. You should now allocate the individual staff member costs to each year of the research, allowing for increments. Use current rates of pay, and build in any known annual increments (again at current rates). You will not be able to claim for pay awards retrospectively, once your research is underway.

  • Please note the ‘Total Weighted FTE’ and ‘Total Rate Calculation’ column figures are calculated using the annual costs, %FTE and number of months. If the research lasts for several years and an individual’s involvement varies over the course, it may be necessary to explain fully in the justification of costs section the % FTE and months per year for an individual staff member.

Travel, subsistence and conference dissemination costs. 

This section includes journey costs, subsistence and conference fees. Where applicable, you will need to include the travel and subsistence costs of your project advisory group, steering committee and/or data monitoring & ethics committee. Travel and subsistence costs relating to dissemination should also be included here, as should costs relating to overseas travel.

Journey costs 

 Enter the total cost of transport for all journeys for destination/purpose. If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates (however this should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowance payments, which is 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p thereafter). Travel by the most economic means possible is encouraged. NIHR programmes do not usually fund first class travel.


Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages.


Where national or international conference costs are included, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the research must also be made; failure to adequately justify your attendance at a conference will mean the programme will not fund this cost. To note, general conference attendance will not be funded, attendees should be presenting findings from the project and spreading learnings.

For research of up to five years, the programme will usually fund up to a maximum of two international conference attendances.


Essential items of equipment plus maintenance and related costs not included as part of estates should be input in this section. These can be lease or purchase costs. 

  • The purchase cost of pieces of equipment, valued up to £2,000 for sub-category 1 and £5,000 for sub-category 2, excluding VAT, will be considered.
  • Pieces of equipment costing more than £2,000/5,000 to purchase will usually need to be leased. Where applicants are leasing equipment with a purchase price of more than £2,000/5,000, a comparison of leasing versus purchasing costs must be provided in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section.
  • Items of equipment valued at £250 or more must be itemised separately; however grouping same type equipment is permitted.
  • Costs of computers are normally restricted to a maximum of £650 each excluding VAT and a statement of justification must be included, in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchase above this limit. Where High Performance Computing (HPC) resources are required, we expect companies will seek to negotiate access to existing national HPC infrastructure rather than purchasing capital equipment. Where High Performance Computing (HPC) resources are required, we expect companies will seek to negotiate access to existing national HPC infrastructure rather than purchasing capital equipment. Information on HPC at the Hartree Centre can be found here or contact for further information.

Equipment must exclude VAT. If you are applying to sub-category 2 and your organisation is unable to reclaim/recover the VAT on a piece of equipment, you should check the box ‘VAT cannot be reclaimed’.

You will need to seek expert advice from the organisation purchasing the equipment regarding its VAT status. If you check the ‘VAT cannot be reclaimed’ column, VAT at 20% will automatically be calculated into the overall cost of that item.


This section includes non-reusable items specific to the research. Please itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g. postage, stationery, photocopying). These items should be research specific, not just general office costs which should be covered by indirect costs.

Patient and public involvement

Please itemise and describe fully the costs associated with patient and public involvement. These are likely to include individual travel, out of pocket expenses, payment for time and any relevant training and support costs. Costs related to study participants should not be itemised here.

If voluntary, charity or community groups are supporting the research via activities such as facilitating contact with potential participants, hosting research activities or providing advice, an adequate budget must be included to compensate for their time and resources.

NIHR has produced a number of useful payment-related resources.

Dissemination costs

Any costs associated with publication, presentation or dissemination of findings (including Open Access Costs) should be included here. Meetings to share best practice, training events and events to disseminate research findings must be run at the lowest possible cost with minimal catering. ‘Conferences’ which are described as such are not eligible for funding.

Open access costs

During the course of your project and throughout the review and publishing phase, you may choose to submit an article based on your research to an open access publication. Depending on the publication, you may be subject to an Article Processing Charge (APC). APC rates vary but are usually within the range of £300 and £3000. Open access publications usually list their APC rates on their websites.

Where possible, you should include an estimate for any APC in your funding application as these will be covered by the funding award. Further information is available in the NIHR Open Access Policy.

Other direct costs 

These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the research. For example, costs associated with the use of research facilities, external consultancy costs, computer licensing, recruitment and advertising costs.

Please note that for organisations claiming indirect/overhead costs, costs such as recruitment of staff, and general training (e.g. in common IT packages) are costs that should be covered by the indirect costs element of the award being sought and should not appear in this section. If external consultancy costs are included in this section they must be fully justified in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section. Please specify the hourly rate and the number of hours and note that consultants must not be people who are already employed by the applicant’s institution. If they are, any costs should be entered as direct costs in the ‘Details of Posts and Salaries’ and ‘Annual Costs of Posts’ sections.

Indirect costs/overheads 

For applications to sub-category 2, indirect costs will be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the award.
They comprise:

  • General office and basic laboratory consumables
  • Premises costs
  • Library services/learning resources
  • Typing/secretarial
  • Finance, personnel, public relations and departmental services
  • Usage costs of major research facilities
  • Central and distributed computing
  • Charge out rates for shared equipment
  • Cost of capital employed

HEI indirect costs

Total HEI indirect costs must be fully justified. HEIs are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs. These costs are calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology. 

  • HEI indirect costs are based on the number of full-time equivalent research staff working on the research and the indirect/estates charges set by an institution.
  • Where staff from more than one HEI are working on the research there may be different indirect/estates charges for each one. Please list each institution on a separate line.
  • Please note HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared staff costs.

The applicant(s) should consult their HEI finance departments for the appropriate figures to include in the estate charges and other indirect cost section.

Third sector other partner organisation indirect costs

Third sector/other partner organisations can claim indirect costs which are the costs of resources used by the research that are shared by other activities. Please seek advice from your finance department about the appropriate cost for this section.

Total Commercial/other partner organisation indirect costs must be fully justified.

NHS support and treatment costs (incl. excess treatment costs/savings) 

If the project will include NHS support and treatment costs, a Schedule of Events Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT) should be completed and uploaded. The SoECAT will capture NHS support and treatment costs, including costs for Social Care research. This tool provides a standardised approach across England, ensuring that the attribution of study activities complies with the Department of Health and Social Care Guidance on Attributing the Costs of Health and Social Care Research and Development (AcoRD).

The Panel will take NHS support and treatment costs into account when considering the value for money of the research. It is important that you consider these costs and discuss them with the NHS bodies or providers of NHS or care services involved in order to avoid any delay in commencing the research.

Please be aware that the research award does NOT include NHS support and/or treatment costs. NHS support and treatment costs will be funded via the Clinical Research Networks (CRN) and can be accessed via the Lead Local CRN managing the process on behalf of local sites.

Please note: Social care studies are eligible for Clinical Research Network (CRN) support, it does not just apply to NHS based research, and researchers should speak to the CRN and include support costs where relevant. For the purposes of social care studies ‘treatment costs’ should be interpreted as ‘intervention costs’ and should be included in the proposal when needed. Further guidance on support and ‘treatment’ costs can be found on the NIHR website.

NHS support costs

These are the additional patient care costs associated with the research, which would end once the R&D activity in question has stopped, even if the patient care service involved continues to be provided. These might cover items such as extra patient tests, extra in-patient days and extra nursing attention. Researchers should contact their local NHS R&D department initially and, if they are unable to help directly or if there is no local NHS R&D department, contact the LCRN senior manager for advice on NHS support costs. Find further details about contacts on the LCRN website.

NHS treatment costs

Please read the guidance on the funding of excess treatment costs prior to completing your application.

These are the patient care costs that would continue to be incurred if the patient care service in question continued to be provided after the R&D activity has stopped. In determining NHS treatment costs you must assume that the patient care service being assessed will continue even though there may be no plans for it to do so. Where patient care is being provided which differs from the normal, standard, treatment for that condition (either an experimental treatment or a service in a different location from where it would normally be given), the difference between the total treatment costs and the costs of the “usual standard care" (if any) constitutes excess treatment cost/saving, but is nonetheless part of the treatment cost, not an NHS support or research cost. These costs should be determined in conjunction with your NHS body or provider of NHS services and their commissioners.

Please note if the patient care intervention under investigation is in addition to usual care there is no need to complete the ‘Usual Treatment Costs’ section however this will need to be justified in the relevant ‘Justification of Costs’ section. If the patient care intervention under investigation either wholly or partially replaces usual care, the ‘Usual Treatment Costs’ section must be completed.

For further information, please see: