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Centre for Engagement and Dissemination - Recognition payments for public contributors


Published: 02 June 2020

Version: 1.1 - July 2020

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Our commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The NIHR Centre for Engagement and Dissemination (CED) is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion in all areas of our work. We recognise public contributors may encounter barriers to involvement. We will take steps to ensure we are as accessible and inclusive as possible. We want to increase the diversity of our public contributors and the voices heard in research, and may take positive action measures to resolve under-representation in this area.

Please do let us know if there is anything we can do to help make our policy more inclusive or if you need a copy of this publication in another format.

Principles of Payment

This policy sets out how the Centre for Engagement and Dissemination supports members of the public to be involved in our work through reimbursing expenses and, in certain circumstances, offering involvement payments.

You may see the term Public Contributor throughout this document. This is an umbrella term the Centre for Engagement and Dissemination uses to describe members of the public who take part in patient and public involvement activities. We use the definition of 'public' to include patients, potential patients, carers and people who use health and social care services as well as people from organisations that represent people who use services. Whilst all of us are actual, former or indeed potential users of health and social care services, there is an important distinction to be made between the perspectives of the public and the perspectives of people who have a professional role in health and social care services or research.

As a public contributor you may be offered a payment when we ask you to get involved in a task such as reviewing documents or attending a meeting. We will also reimburse all reasonable expenses associated with your involvement such as the costs of travelling to a meeting or the cost of a carer who is providing cover for you.

These are ‘honorarium’ payments. They are a form of reward and recognition offered for the contribution that you make to our work. This does not mean that you have an on-going contract of employment with CED. You are not obliged to accept a honorarium payment.

Who is eligible for a fee

We offer an honorarium payment to public contributors who:

  • are a member of the public


  • are being asked by CED to provide a public perspective


  • are not in receipt of a full time salary from public funds.

If you work full time in the public sector you may, by exception, still be entitled to payment of a fee provided that you confirm to us in writing that:

  • your paid employment is unrelated to the activity being asked of you by CED


  • you intend to undertake the activity for CED in your free time, such as through taking annual leave or outside your normal working hours. 

Please note: at the time we invite you to get involved in an activity we will tell you, in writing, what fee we are offering. Section 6 of this policy describes the different rates of fees that are offered for involvement in different activities.

When you have completed an activity, we will ask you to fill in and return a claim form. We also need you to send us any original receipts, such as train tickets or a taxi receipt, as proof of payment. Once authorised the form will be sent to our finance department. Payments take approximately four to eight weeks to be processed and will be paid into your bank account. Please note the payment will appear on your bank statement as “LGC Ltd” and not “CED”.

If you prefer to donate your honorarium payment to a registered charity please complete the claim form and simply provide the bank details of the charity concerned rather than your own.

Tax and National Insurance

You are personally responsible for any income tax or National Insurance contribution liability. You will need to declare this to HMRC. CED does not deduct tax or National Insurance contributions from payments.

Public contributors who receive state benefits

If you are receiving state benefits, any payment of fees and expenses to you may affect your benefit claim. You should notify Jobcentre Plus of any paid or voluntary activity. You may also need permission to undertake any paid activity. Benefit conditions are complex and limits on payments that can be received without benefits vary widely.

A Benefits Advice Service is provided by NIHR nationally through the Centre for Engagement and Dissemination, and is open to members of the public who are involved in, or considering involvement in research with the NIHR.

To access the free, confidential advice through the Benefits Advice Service please email us on

The Centre for Engagement and Dissemination is not able to offer expert advice about this issue, but can support you in the process of getting advice.

Involvement in tasks and activities

Public contributors may be involved in a range of tasks. This may include participating in an advisory or focus group, becoming an external reviewer, undertaking community outreach activities, participating in interview panels, co-delivering training, or a longer-term but time limited activity, such as a project advisor. The payment offered will depend on the volume and nature of the particular activity.

A member of CED staff will advise you of the nature of the task, the honorarium payment this will attract and issue the claim form. The CED Administrator will oversee this process and any queries should be raised with this person in the first instance.

Description of honorarium payments

Fee Description

£12.50 - For involvement in a task or activity such as reading and commenting on an abstract which equates to less than half an hour.

  • For example, reviewing papers for the development of Alerts.

£25 - For involvement in a task or activity requiring little or no preparation and which equates to approximately one hour of activity or less.

  • For example, participating in a focus group to provide feedback on a proposal.

£50 - For involvement in a task or activity likely to require some preparation and which equates to approximately two hours of activity.

  • For example, a teleconference with related papers to read or review a few short documents.

£75 - For involvement in a task or activity where preparation is required and which equates to approximately half a day’s activity.

  • For example, participating in a meeting to interview a small number of candidates who have applied to join a committee or panel, participating in a focus group, or delivering training.

£150 - For involvement in all-day meetings.

  • For example, attending a committee or panel meeting as an observer prior to becoming an active public member of a committee/panel.

£300 - For involvement in all-day meetings that require substantial preparation

  • For example, when chairing or co-chairing a meeting
  • Or when carrying out other discretionary work, which requires additional responsibilities

Changes to payments offered

If the requirements of the activity we have asked you to undertake are reduced because of changes initiated by us, we will honour the amount of honorarium payment we originally offered. If we increase the activity required we will increase the payment offered to you accordingly.

Exceptionally, in circumstances such as illness or an emergency, if you prepare for a meeting but are unable to attend, a nominal payment may be offered depending on the amount of preparation you have undertaken ahead of the meeting.


CED will reimburse any reasonable and necessary expenses that you incur as a result of your involvement. In this section we outline the kinds of expenses that we will reimburse, and also the limits that we place on what can reasonably be claimed. When expenses are required, please endeavour to get the best value for money possible.

All expenses must be claimed within six months of being incurred. Anything claimed outside of this time frame may not be paid. Please keep all your receipts as these must be attached and submitted within your expense claim form.


If you attend a meeting organised by CED such as an advisory group or panel meeting, your travel costs will be reimbursed. We ask you to identify and use the most cost effective mode of transport possible. If you are using public transport, we expect you to travel by economy or standard class. Booking advance tickets and using discount cards can produce further savings.

If you drive to a meeting, you may claim reimbursement at the following HMRC approved mileage rates:

  • Car (all engine sizes): 45 pence per mile
  • Motorcycle (all engine sizes): 24 pence per mile
  • Bicycle: 20 pence per mile

You need to state the mileage on your claim form. If you incur parking fees these may also be claimed, by submitting receipts. Parking fines will not be reimbursed.

You may claim for the cost of a journey by taxi if due to a disability or ill-health, using public transport is not possible.

For any other transport arrangements, you will need to agree with the person authorising your travel in advance of booking.

Air travel

It is acknowledged that air travel can be cheaper than other forms of available travel. Some journeys may be more economical to be undertaken by air travel especially where the costs of overnight accommodation would otherwise be necessitated by other forms of transport. In such cases as above, air travel is a legitimate expense.

This will be decided on a case-by-case basis with CED staff and information demonstrating a flight as the cheapest viable form of travel, and should only use economy class with low fare airlines.

Overnight accommodation

Occasionally you may need overnight accommodation. For example, if you would otherwise have to make an unreasonably early start to get to a meeting, or, if you do not live locally, you may need overnight accommodation during a two-day meeting. However, you must discuss and agree any accommodation requirements with CED staff in advance of booking. It will normally be possible for us to book and pay for your accommodation in advance.

If you book your own accommodation the limits of allowable expenditure are:

  • In London up to £150
  • Elsewhere in the UK up to £95

If overnight accommodation is required and you would prefer to stay with a relative or friend, you can claim an allowance of £25 per night.

Meals and other refreshments

If you attend a meeting organised by CED, refreshments are always provided and a lunch is provided for all-day meetings. Please ensure that CED is aware of any special dietary requirements or eating arrangements that you may have. If you need additional refreshments such as a drink on a train journey or an evening meal, costs will be reimbursed so long as they are reasonable and supported by VAT receipts.

The limit of allowable expenditure for meals and other refreshments is up to £30 (incl. VAT) per day. If a hotel rate does not include the cost of breakfast this can be claimed to a maximum of £10.

The cost of any alcoholic beverages will not be reimbursed.

Some additional costs that CED will reimburse are described below.

Other expenses

If, in order to attend a meeting, you need to be accompanied by a paid or unpaid carer, a personal assistant or a support worker, the travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of this person will be met by CED. Where your paid carer, personal assistant or support worker is working over and above any hours that you usually pay for, you may claim a reasonable hourly rate for the time that you need the additional cover. However, you must provide receipts.

If, in order to attend a meeting, you need a carer to cover for a person you normally care for, over and above any hours that you usually pay for, you may claim a reasonable hourly rate for the time that you need the additional cover. This includes care for children. However, you must discuss and agree this with CED staff in advance.

Remote working costs

Some public contributors will make use of home office supplies as part of their involvement with CED. This might include use of a telephone or internet connection to join meetings remotely, and / or it might include printing out papers at home that have been sent via email.

Where public contributors participate in meetings remotely from their home, we will pay a standing allowance of £5 per meeting to cover the cost of telephone calls, paper, printing ink and paper, internet connection and other home sundries.

If you need to post any items to us, you may reclaim this cost. This should not include sensitive information, which must be carefully shredded. If, exceptionally, postage amounts to £5 or more you will need to submit a receipt.

CED staff will call you or offer to call you back if you contact them so that you do not incur phone charges. If we ask you to join a teleconference we will provide a dial-in number that will be free to you, provided that you call from a landline and not a mobile phone.

Other communication and support needs

To support public contributors we are able to provide information in alternative languages and formats at meetings and events where needed. This will include the provision of information in alternative formats such as easy read or braille, and in alternative / community languages.

Where the costs or methods of involvement are a barrier to you in ways not specified in the policy, please discuss your needs with the CED Lead contact. Reasonable adjustments will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Learning and development

Occasionally we may ask you to voluntarily attend an event because it might be beneficial for you in your role as a public contributor or recognise the contribution that you have made. In which case we will offer an honorarium payment for your attendance and reimburse any associated costs.

Exceptionally we may agree that you can attend a training or learning event, such as a conference, for which we will pay any event fees and any associated expenses.

Further information

If you have any questions or queries about claiming honorarium payments and expenses please raise them with the member of staff who is your main point of contact in the CED team.