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NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research Development Awards - finance guidance for applicants


Published: 15 July 2019

Version: 1.0

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The Global Health Policy and Systems Research (Global HPSR) Programme is funded via the UK Government’s commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA) and supports high quality applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle income countries (LMICs), as defined from time to time by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) and listed by the Development Assistance Committee.

The Global HPSR Development Awards will provide funding of a maximum of £100,000 for a period of up to 9 months to support the development of equitable partnerships between researchers in LMICs that are identified on the DAC list and researchers in UK institutions. 

Official Development Assistance (ODA) eligibility

The research must be focused on improving the health and welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable people in ODA-eligible countries. In order to be eligible to receive ODA funding, applications must demonstrate how they meet ODA compliance criteria and outline:

  • Which country or countries on the DAC list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit?
  • How the application is directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries?
  • How the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of a country or countries on the DAC list?

Applicants should ensure they have considered existing advice on ODA eligibility and that information on how the application for funding will be ODA-compliant is included in the application. Any queries about the ODA eligibility of projects should be raised with the relevant NIHR Coordinating Centre as early as possible.

For more details about ODA see the OECD “What is ODA” page. Additionally further information can be found at:

  1. OECD Development co-operative Directorate
  2. Official Development Assistance - definition and coverage

General information

  • Applications will be considered for a maximum of 9 months duration and up to a value of £100,000.

  • Applicants are required to complete the budget spreadsheet. Provide a breakdown of costs associated with delivering the Development Award plans. Use drop down boxes to choose appropriate budget heading (e.g. staff costs, consumables, travel and subsistence, etc.). An anticipated split between the UK and ODA-eligible countries
    must be included.

  • The start date should be on the first of the month and no later than 1st March 2020.

  • The total funds requested should be based on current prices.

  • The budget spreadsheet 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. Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation should be included to support your application. Failure to provide a sound
    justification for expenditure will result in costs not being funded.

  • Financial years run from 1st April to 31st March.

  • All costs must be reasonable, justifiable and compliant with the principles of robust financial management. Expenditure must be identifiable, verifiable and recorded in
    accounts with applicable accounting standards. NIHR reserves the right to inspect the accounting records at any time.

  • Once an award has been made, NIHR on behalf of Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will require award holders to provide regular financial statements
    regarding the use of funds. As this funding must be Official Development Assistance (ODA) compliant, applicants will also be required to forecast their expenditure on a
    quarterly basis.

    The submission quarters are:
    1st Apr - 30th June
    1st Jul – 30th Sep
    1st Oct – 31st Dec
    1st Jan – 31st Mar
    The financial reports are due 1 month after the quarter end.

  • DHSC also reserves the right to send independent auditors to confirm the actual use of funds.

  • Appropriate sub-contracts must be put in place for any elements of the award which are to be paid to other organisations.

Information on different types of organisations

All organisations including the UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), organisations based in LMICs as well as all other partner organisations (e.g. commercial organisations, charities and NGOs, NHS organisations where these are included as collaborators) can apply for 100% of direct costs associated with Global HPSR Development Award. No indirect costs will be funded, see section 4 below; however, institutions based in LMICs are invited to include the true costs for undertaking a project of this nature in low resource settings.

Please see the sections below for further details of the types of costs that can be claimed.

Funding and contracting bust take place via the UK based HEIs or Research Institutes.

Direct costs

Direct costs are ODA-eligible costs that will be incurred by the Contractor (and any partners) as part of Global HPSR Development Award in carrying out the proposed plans. These should be charged as the amount actually spent and should be supported by an audit record. 

Eligible direct costs are listed in the sub-headings below.

Staff costs

UK and LMIC reasonable and proportionate staff costs can be requested. These should include employer’s contributions toward national insurance, pension and apprenticeship levy.

Staff costs should be based on current salary scales and include agreed annual increments. You will not be able to claim for pay awards retrospectively, once your project is underway. Estimated uplifts for inflation should not be included.

Salaries may be sought at a level appropriate to the skills, responsibilities and expertise necessary to carry out the role required.

Salaries that are already being fully or in-part funded by the NIHR must be declared in the justification of costs section and cannot be claimed for again.

Please complete the “Salary details” section of the finance template if staff costs are being requested:

  • Staff Name – please enter the staff name if currently known. If yet to be recruited, please enter “TBC”.
  • Role – enter role of the person the salary is being requested for, e.g. Investigator.
  • Institution - state the name of employing organisation.
  • % FTE – enter the full time equivalent the staff member is going to work on the project.
  • No of months – state the number of months the person is to work on the project, e.g. 9 months.
  • Basic salary/ Geographical weighting and other allowances/ Employers pension, national insurance and apprenticeship levy – where applicable enter the amounts payable based on the full time salary.
  • Total salary requested – please enter the salary requested to be funded taking into account % FTE and the number of months on the project.
  • If there are any applicants whose salaries are not being claimed you should still include their details within this section, but do not include any actual costs.

Travel, subsistance and conference costs

Travel and subsistence costs of collaborative working visits, formation of partnerships and engagement with potential stakeholders can be requested. Travel and subsistence in relation to project meetings and dissemination activities can also be claimed. A comprehensive breakdown of all costs should be provided.

Travel costs

All journey by rail or air should be budgeted by a class of travel that is no higher than standard economy unless higher-class travel is required to comply with specific legislation. NIHR funding schemes do not fund first class travel.

For UK travel only: If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates. However, there should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowances (45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles and 25p per mile thereafter).

For travel within LMIC territories: all journeys must be charged according to the most appropriate (basic or standard) local rate.


Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with travel. All cost must be based on actual receipted expenditure. Alcohol and tobacco are not allowable subsistence items.


Where national or international conference costs are requested, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the project must be included. Failure to adequately justify the attendance at a conference will result in these costs not being funded.


Costs for purchasing of equipment will not be met as part of Global HPSR Development Awards.


This section includes items specific to the project. Please itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g. printing of leaflets, postage, etc.). These items should be specific to the project, not just general office costs. 

Community engagement and involvement

It is encouraged to include Community Engagement and Involvement costs as part of the application for Global HPSR Development Awards. Involving people in the project usually requires resources in terms of time and monetary payments. It is really important to account for the costs of involvement at early stage. These are likely to include:

  • Payments in recognition of time, skills and expertise,
  • Out of pocket expenses such as travel and subsistence
  • Training and learning costs – training and induction for members of the public may be required for many involvement activities, payment for time for policy makers and other stakeholders and any relevant support costs. All costs should be itemised and described.

NIHR INVOLVE have produced a number of useful resources in relation to community engagement and involvement:

Briefing notes for researchers 
Payment and recognition for public involvement


Costs associated with publication, presentation of findings can be requested as part of this award. All costs should be calculated on the basis on the lowest possible estimates. Breakdown of all costs and activities must be provided. Costs associated with hosting a conference will not be met as part of this award.

During the course of your award you may choose to submit an article based on your project to an open access publication, which may be subject to an Article Processing Charge (APC). If applicable, please include the costs of APCs. 

See the Journals Library for more details about the NIHR Open Access policy.

Risk management and assurance

Costs associated with proportionate risk management and assurance may be requested as part of this application for funding. There are specific requirements for monitoring and financial assurance relating to the distribution and use of ODA funds. If relevant, appropriate resources to support due diligence and financial reporting requirements should be requested.

Other direct costs

These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the Global HPSR Development Award. For example, external consultancy costs, software licensing and advertising costs.

Please note that external consultants must not be people who are already employed by the contracting institution or any other partners involved in the project. All employees must be shown under staff costs. Any consultancy costs must be justified and a number of days and a daily rate must be stated.

Indirect costs

The aim of the Global HPSR Development Awards is to support the development of partnerships between UK institutions and ODA-eligible LMIC researchers with a view to identify priorities for further research. Development Awards are not classed as research projects in their own right and therefore UK FEC related costs such as estates and indirect will not be funded.

LMIC institutions may include actual and real costs of undertaking the proposal. These are the costs necessary for the delivery of the project and without which the delivery of the project would not be possible. These costs should be recorded under “other costs” and must be itemised and justified accordingly.

Ineligible costs

The following costs are not eligible under Global HPSR Development Awards:

  • Any costs that cannot be classed as ODA eligible as defined by the OECD
  • Purchase of any equipment
  • Overheads and indirect costs
  • Cost associated with lobbying or any other political or exclusively religious activities
  • Studentships
  • First and Business class travel
  • Per diem expenses for subsistence for staff employed by UK organisations
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Entertainment
  • NHS support and treatment costs
  • Costs associated with animals or their tissues
  • Establishing and running new Bio banks
  • Fines and penalties
  • Costs already funded by NIHR or any other public organisations
  • Payments reimbursed or to be reimbursed by other public or private sector funding
  • Contributions in kind (i.e. contributions in goods or services as opposed to money)
  • VAT reclaimable from HMRC
  • Contingency
  • Interest payments
  • Bad debts to related parties
  • Inflation or foreign exchange rate contingency

Justification of costs

Please provide a breakdown of how costs included in your application provide value for money. Justification for the resources requested should be provided.

Please ensure you describe clearly how the costs outlined in your application will support the Global HPSR Development Award requirements for high quality plans to: 

  1. support partnership development between two joint lead applicants one in an ODA-eligible LMIC and one in an UK institution to expand partnerships and
    develop consortia (up to 3-5 institutions).
  2. review local context, existing research literature and health systems;
  3. develop a needs analysis, to refine ODA-eligible research questions and priorities through engagement with policy makers, evidence users and local communities, as appropriate. This can include pilot data, feasibility studies and work-force planning;
  4. establish plans for developing institutional and individual capacity and capability (for example career development programmes, training, exchanges with policymaking institutions/practice-based settings, and grant management, finance management and contracting);
  5. develop a strategy for research uptake and dissemination. 

Please ensure that it is clear as to how exactly the costs have been calculated and allocated. For example, for consumables please ensure you provide further information as to the price, type and numbers of items that will be purchased. 

Please contact if you have any queries when completing the finance template.