NIHR Global Health Research – Finance Guidance for Applicants to the NIHR Global Health Policy and Systems Research Programme Researcher-Led Call
Programme Specific Information
Official Development Assistance (ODA) Eligibility
- Which country or countries on the OECD 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.
Further information can be found at:
NIHR Global Health Research guidance on ODA guidance for Applicants and Reviewers
OECD Factsheet: What is ODA
OECD DAC Statistical Reporting Directives
OECD DAC list of ODA eligible countries
Development Co-operation Directorate Official development assistance – definition and coverage
- Applicants are required to complete the finance template and to provide a breakdown of costs associated with delivering proposed research plans.
- All funds must be requested at current price at the time of the submission and inflation must not be included. Annual inflationary uplifts may be awarded to successful applicants by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) depending on the available resources.
- The information included within the application will be used to assess value for money. It is in your best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. Applicants must provide a clear and full justification for all costs within the finance template. Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation should be included to support the application. If insufficient itemisation is provided at application stage, further details and methods of calculation may be requested. Failure to provide a sound justification for expenditure will result in costs not being funded.
- Applicants must provide a clear justification for all costs, including all costs required to secure risk management and assurance appropriate to ODA funding. Guidance on how to complete the form is embedded within the finance form.
- Programme years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the proposed research. The start date should be on the first of the month, e.g. 1st September 2020.
- All costs must be reasonable, justifiable and compliant with the principles of robust financial management. Once the contract starts, 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.
- Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their collaborating organisation(s) including those in LMICs.
- Please ensure that all costs are converted and presented as GB £ in the application. The exchange rate used, as well as date / source of exchange rate should also be provided.
- Appropriate sub-contracts or collaboration agreements must be put in place for any element of the research which is to be paid to another organisation.
- All applications are expected to have appropriate input from Lead / Joint-lead institutions (as applicable), Co-applicant institutions and other relevant collaborating organisations into the completion of the finance section of the application form.
- Once an award has been made, NIHR, on behalf of the DHSC, will require Contractors to provide regular financial statements regarding the actual use of funds. As this funding must be ODA compliant, Contractors will also be required to forecast their expenditure on a quarterly basis on a resource (accrual) basis.
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 reserves the right to send independent auditors to the contracted organisation and collaborating organisations involved in the research programme to confirm the actual use of funds.
- Organisations which are unable to reclaim Value-Added Tax (VAT) should include costs inclusive of VAT, otherwise VAT must be excluded. Seek advice of your VAT expert to determine the VAT status of your organisation.
Information on Different Types of Organisations
LMIC Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Research Institutes
Other UK-based organisations
Collaborating organisations based in LMICs
Commercial and other collaborating organisations not based in LMICs or the UK
Eligible direct costs are listed in the sub-headings below.
Staff costs should be based on current salary scales and include estimated increments. Once your programme is contracted, retrospective pay awards cannot be claimed. Estimated uplifts for inflation should NOT be included, however agreed multi-year pay awards may 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.
There are specific and detailed requirements for monitoring, reporting and financial assurance relating to the distribution and use of ODA funds. Applicants are, therefore, strongly encouraged to include appropriate resource for programme management, monitoring and evaluation, and financial management to support these requirements.
Student stipend costs, if applicable, should be included within the salary section (for further guidance on stipends please see guidance in the ‘Training and Development Costs’ section below).
Student fees should be included within 'Training and Development Costs' (see further guidance in the ‘Training and Development Costs’ section below).
Travel, Subsistence and Conference costs
Where costs are amalgamated, a comprehensive breakdown of all costs should be provided.
Applicants are required to consider value for money and environmental impact, and consider whether a trip is necessary and if there are alternative, cheaper options (e.g. teleconferencing or video conferencing) which offer a viable alternative.
- 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, they should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowances (45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles and 25p per mile thereafter). For international travel: all journeys must be charged according to the most appropriate (basic or standard) local rate.
Costs of visas required for travel specifically related to the programme should be included within this section. If a visa covers travel across multiple projects the cost of the visa should be shared across all projects where possible, but if not only claimed once.
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. Per diem payments for subsistence are not permitted.
Where costs for attending national or international conference (fees, associated travel and subsistence) are requested, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the programme must be included. Failure to adequately justify attendance at a conference will result in these costs not being funded.
UK HEIs who claim FEC cannot request equipment items that are included within the estate’s element of FEC.
Equipment purchase for use in the UK contracted/collaborating Organisations would not normally be supported. If equipment is required for the use in the UK, a clear justification must be provided, including as to how the purchase will be of the direct and principal benefit to the LMIC community. Please note that equipment purchased and owned by the NHS cannot be funded by the NIHR. Please ensure no NHS equipment costs are included in your application.
Costs of computers and laptops are normally restricted to a maximum of £1000 each including associated software and VAT. A statement of justification must be included in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchase above this limit.
Items of equipment valued at £250 or more (or equivalent in local currency) must be itemised separately; however grouping of the same type of equipment is permitted.
NIHR considers any equipment and/or supplies purchased in part or fully from ODA funds as programme assets if they have a useful life of more than one year; and either
- the purchase price or development cost of the asset is in excess of £500 or equivalent in local currency; or
- is a group of lower value items (e.g. pharmaceutical products, food, relief packs, etc.) where the combined value is in excess of £500 or equivalent in local currency; or
- can be considered an attractive item regardless of cost (e.g. mobile phones, cameras, laptops, tablets, satellite phones, vehicles, etc.).
At the end of the programme the equipment will remain the property of the relevant Collaborator or the Contractor and must continue to be used for ODA-eligible activities.
Community Engagement and Involvement
- 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.
UK Standards for Public Involvement
INVOLVE Briefing notes for researchers
Payment and recognition for public involvement
Costs associated with publication and presentation of findings can be requested as part of this award. All costs should be calculated on the basis of the lowest possible estimates.
Outputs funded by NIHR must be shared on open access platforms. Articles submitted to an open access publication may be subject to an Article Processing Charge (APC). If applicable, please include the costs of APCs. APC rates vary but are usually within the range of £300 and £3000. Open access publications usually list their APC rates on their websites.
For more details please see the NIHR Open Access policy.
Risk Management and Assurance
To make effective arrangements for risk management and assurance, Applicants should consider the financial systems and financial management capacity of Co-Applicants / Collaborators and the level of risk within the country, and tailor the assurance and monitoring processes appropriately. The Good Financial Grants Practice (GFGP) may be used in order to identify gaps in financial capacity, governance, systems etc.
GFGP audits and accreditation costs can be requested. Please consider that these costs can only be requested once per organisation and should not be claimed across multiple NIHR programmes/calls.
Costs specific to safeguarding activities are also permitted.
Breakdown of all costs and activities must be provided. Any large costs should be further detailed with a breakdown of constituent parts or a timescale profile of the costs, (e.g. due diligence cost would be expected to be profiled within the early stages of the programme).
UK statutory audit costs are not eligible direct costs.
Audits conducted in LMICs may be eligible direct costs, provided these are project audits (PA) / formal Project Expenditure Verifications (PEV). Where a PA / PEV is done as part of a statutory audit, the cost can be claimed if there are substantial project specific audits (PSA) which are referenced or embedded in statutory accounts or as a stand-alone PEV report.
Training and Development Costs
- Full or partial formal training posts (including but not limited to BSc, MSc, MPhil, MRes, PhD, Post docs),
- training in technical research skills and personal development skills,
- other wider institutional capacity strengthening activities such as finance management, research management, data management, legal compliance and assurance training,
- institutional systems for coaching, mentoring and / or peer-mentorship.
Events to share best practice and training workshops, such as sending out colleagues to provide specific training to their counterparts in ODA eligible countries, can be requested within this section.
English language training in the context of all studentships is an eligible cost, provided clear justification and a strong value for money argument are given.
In cases where the application includes LMIC student fees at a HIC institution (often charged at higher rates for international students), it is expected that the relevant (Joint) Lead Applicant will negotiate with the HIC institution for reduced fees for the LMIC candidate to bring them in line with those paid by nationals. Application for funding should show evidence of fees being reduced. NIHR would require justification where only partial or no LMIC student fee reductions have been achieved.
It is expected that studentships are co-terminus with the award. Therefore, where PhDs are being included as part of formal training plans, funding awards should be for a minimum of 48 months to allow time for recruitment and completion of training within the funded award period.
NIHR understands that it is common practice to provide stipends to PhD, and Post-Doctoral students, however for NIHR Global Health Research funded programmes they also apply to all other academic formal training courses, so long as support or salary is not received from another source during the period of the training course.
It is expected that stipends are only claimed where students are enrolled in a course of a minimum duration of 12 months unless there is a clear justification for providing a stipend for shorter durations.
Stipends can be claimed by students from ODA-eligible countries, regardless of whether they are registered at a HEI in an ODA-eligible country or HIC.
Students from ODA eligible countries undertaking formal training course delivered via distance / remote learning registered at a UK or other HIC HEI may have to attend residential training in the HIC as part of their course. Where this is the case, stipend costs can be claimed only for the time spent in the HIC as part of the course as follows:
- UK HEIs: pro-rata stipend, calculated as a proportion of the annual UK stipend figure may apply. Applicants must provide a full justification.
- Other HIC HEIs: the stipend policy of the sponsoring organisation will apply. Pro-rata stipend, calculated as a proportion of the annual stipend figure, may apply. A copy of the policy should be submitted to the NIHR and applicants must provide full justification.
The proposed NIHR minimum annual stipend figure applicable in the UK is set at £15,285 for 2020/21. These rates are reviewed and adjusted each year in line with UK inflation.
For budgeting / costing purposes only, the following indicative rates can be used.
Stipends are expected to cover living costs such as subsistence, routine travel and accommodation. Additional costs such as conference attendance, research expenses, and international travel are not covered by the stipend, and should be included in the relevant section of the proposed project / programme costing where applicable.
Please note, student stipend costs, if applicable, should be included within the salary section of the Finance Form.
External intervention costs
For comparison, these would be interventions classified as NHS support or excess treatment activities in the UK and the costs would not be funded through the research award if the research was taking place in the UK.
Other Direct Costs
Please note that external consultants must not be people who are already employed by the contracting institution or any other Co-Applicants/Collaborators involved in the programme. 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 / Overheads
- General office and basic laboratory consumables
- Premises costs
- Library services/learning resources
- Finance (including audit), 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
- Statutory audits
UK HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared or support staff costs.
ODA-eligible LMIC institutions may include actual and real costs of undertaking the research in low-resource settings. Indirect costs can be claimed and should be charged in proportion to the total amount of staff effort (research and support staff) requested on the application for funding.
NHS organisations cannot claim any indirect costs through NIHR programmes.
Indirect costs of other collaborating organisations based in ODA-eligible countries or the UK can be claimed and should be charged in proportion to the amount of staff effort requested on the funding application form.
Indirect costs for collaborating institutions based in HICs (other than the UK) are not supported.
All indirect costs requested as part of application must be fully justified as to why these costs are being requested and how they will contribute to the delivery of the objectives of the programme.
- Any costs that cannot be classed as ODA-eligible as defined by the OECD
- Cost associated with lobbying or any other political or exclusively religious activities
- First and Business class travel
- Per diem costs for travel and subsistence for all staff employed on the programme
- Alcohol and tobacco
- UK NHS support and treatment costs
- 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 funding
- Contributions in kind (i.e. contributions in goods or services as opposed to money)
- VAT reclaimable from HMRC
- Interest payments
- Inflation or foreign exchange rate contingency
- Funding will not be provided to meet the costs of basic research
- NHS Equipment costs will not be funded by NIHR Global Health Research funding
- Capital investments in new buildings
Justification of Costs
Please ensure that it is clear as to how exactly the costs have been calculated and allocated. For example, if you plan to spend £100k on consumables please ensure you provide further information as to the price, type and numbers of items that will be purchased.
Please provide a full justification of indirect costs requested clearly stating the methodology used to calculate these costs and how they represent a good value for money.
The NIHR requires evidence of good value for money within the justification of costs and considers this to be the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes. ‘Optimal’ being considered as ‘the most desirable possible given expressed or implied restrictions or constraints’. Value for money goes beyond achieving the lowest initial price and includes consideration of Economy, Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Equity (as appropriate) and what these mean in the context of a research proposal:
Economy: Are we buying inputs of the appropriate quality at the right price? (Inputs are things such as staff, consultants, raw materials and capital that are used to produce outputs).
Efficiency: How well do we convert inputs into outputs? (Outputs are results delivered by us or our agents to an external party. We exercise strong control over the quality and quantity of outputs).
Effectiveness: How well are the outputs from an intervention achieving the desired outcome? (Note that in contrast to outputs, we do not exercise direct control over outcomes).
Equity: the extent to which the outputs of our interventions are equitably distributed.
The following reference resources may be useful: