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NIHR Local Clinical Research Network Funding Allocations 2020/21


Published: 11 August 2020

Version: 07 July 2020

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Purpose of this document

This document provides information on the NIHR Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN) funding allocations for the 2020/21 financial year (see Table 2).

Purpose of CRN funding model

The purpose of the CRN funding model is to best apportion the national CRN funding allocation from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to the 15 LCRNs in pursuance of the aims of the NIHR CRN as set out in the NIHR Briefing Note for the CRN, and the CRN High Level Objectives.

The CRN funding model was radically simplified for the 2019/20 financial year with agreement that the basis would remain unchanged for a minimum three-year period. The 2020/21 CRN funding model is the second year of this three-year period.

Overview of CRN funding model 2020/21

The CRN funding model for 2020/21 has three components: ‘Core’, ‘Topsliced’, and ‘Excess Treatment Cost (ETC) Service Funding’.

  • The Core component is a two-part model consisting of a fixed and a variable element.
    • Fixed element - 80% of core funding, using the 2018/19 allocations as the baseline for the calculations, and allowing LCRNs to plan effectively.
    • Variable element - 20% of core funding, used to incentivise and reward LCRNs in pursuance of DHSC strategic initiatives and objectives. The factors determining the distribution of this element - i.e. the allocation of this element - could by definition be changed year on year. Further information on the variable element is provided below.
  • The Top-sliced component provides for national NHS service support functions and CRN National Specialty Leads. This has been deducted from the total CRN allocation prior to the core fixed and variable elements being calculated.
  • The ETC Service Funding, as previously agreed with DHSC, provides additional staff resource to support the management of ETCs.

Core funding component - variable element

Funding allocations within the variable element were calculated using performance data in relation to CRN High Level Objectives (HLOs) 1, 2a and 2b CRN Specialty Objectives and a new ‘Targeting Local Health Needs’ metric. Each of these five factors attracted 4% of the total core funding allocation, i.e. 20% of core funding in total.

a) HLO 1 – the number of participants recruited into NIHR CRN Portfolio Studies
b) HLO 2a – the proportion of commercial contract studies in the NIHR CRN Portfolio delivering to recruitment time and target
c) HLO 2b – the proportion of non-commercial studies in the NIHR CRN Portfolio delivering to recruitment time and target
d) Specialty Objectives – the number included in the 2020/21 funding model has been reduced, as listed below, in order to better align with new objectives that were introduced in April 2019:

  • Cancer – on-target recruitment into at least 8 of the 13 Cancer subspecialties
  • Children – proportion of NHS Trusts recruiting into Children’s studies
  • Critical Care – proportion of intensive care units recruiting into studies
  • Diabetes – increase recruitment into studies that require collaboration between primary and secondary care
  • Gastroenterology – recruitment of 40 participants per 100,000 population to Gastro studies
  • Mental Health – increase participation in Mental Health studies involving children and young people
  • Musculoskeletal Disorders – increase the number of participants recruited into Orth studies
  • Ophthalmology – increase NHS participation in Ophthalmology studies
  • Renal Disorders – ‘new’ Principal Investigators engaged in commercial Renal Disorders studies
  • Surgery – increase patient access to Surgery research studies.

e) Targeting Local Health Needs – compares the prevalence and research activity for ‘priority’ health conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • COPD
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular
  • Mental Health – common
  • Mental Health – severe
  • Stroke.

Balanced scorecard

A balanced scorecard approach was used to calculate the allocation for each LCRN. This ensured that all LCRNs received some funding from the variable element. The methodology was to apply a score to the 2018/19 HLO and Specialty objectives, and Targeting Health Needs metric outturn data at a LCRN level; the better the performance, the higher the score awarded. An example, using HLO 1, is provided in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Points awarded in the balanced scorecard based on HLO1 target achieved
% of target achieved (success rate)Point awarded
< 85% 0.9
85% 0.95
95% 1
101% 1.05

To ensure the volume and complexities of the HLOs were taken into account, the scores per LCRN for HLO 1 were multiplied by the number of participants recruited, and the scores for HLO 2a and HLO 2b were multiplied by the number of studies that achieved the recruitment to time and target aim of 80%.

Additional information

Host corporate support services

LCRNs are provided with an allowable expenditure to provide a range of corporate support facilities and services that facilitate the governance, leadership and management of the LCRN. These services typically include: financial management and reporting; human resources; information technology and governance; office space, facilities and equipment; legal and contracting support.

Cap and Collar

The funding model aims to avoid major fluctuations in year on year funding, thus providing stability in the NIHR infrastructure and allow LCRNs to plan more effectively.

As in previous years, a +/- 5% Cap and Collar has been applied to the 2020/21 CRN funding model. The Top-sliced element and Excess Treatments Cost Service Funding are excluded from this calculation.

Table 2: Final LCRN funding allocations 2020/21
LCRNFixed funding element (£) with LCRN adjustments includedVariable element (£) with cap and collar adjustment includedTotal pre-top sliced £Top-sliced £ETC service funding £Final allocation £
East Midlands 16,739,800 4,171,384 20,911,184 20,040 76,909 21,008,133
Eastern 15,258,164 3,665,033 18,923,197 1,245,539 86,688 20,255,424
Greater Manchester 14,372,206 4,300,753 18,672,959 84,833 80,576 18,838,368
Kent, Surrey and Sussex 11,297,656 2,907,897 14,205,553 0 59,798 14,265,351
North East and North Cumbria 14,328,680 3,712,191 18,040,871 62,200 80,576 18,183,647
North Thames 23,778,436 4,947,873 28,242,279 72,080 131,911 28,446,270
North West Coast 12,861,884 2,878,679 15,740,563 67,555 50,020 15,858,138
North West London 11,053,784 3,287,396 14,341,180 40,240 89,132 14,470,552
South London 19,303,139 4,918,088 24,221,227 59,490 141,690 24,422,407
South West Peninsula 8,501,858 2,721,194 11,223,052 65,700 42,686 11,331,438
Thames Valley and South Midlands 12,134,992 3,758,181 15,893,173 36,040 87,910 16,017,123
Wessex 14,158,881 3,484,712 17,643,593 16,000 75,687 17,735,280
West Midlands 21,820,647 4,033,091 25,853,738 20,040 89,132 25,962,910
West of England 10,043,354 2,802,724 12,846,078 0 68,354 12,914,432
Yorkshire and Humber 20,854,427 4,916,772 25,771,199 280,384 91,577 26,143,160
Total £226,023,878 £56,505,968 £282,529,846 £2,070,141 £1,252,646 £285,852,633


Any enquiries regarding the 2020/21 LCRN funding allocations should be emailed to Sally Johnson, LCRN Funding and Contracts Manager, to: