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Research and Innovation and Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) - Call 3 Stage 1 Finance Guidance for Applicants



This document provides guidance on how to complete the Finance Summary Form for Stage 1 of funding call 3 for NIHR Research and Innovation and Global Health Transformation (RIGHT), and the RIGHT Stage 2 Finance Form.  Applicants should provide a breakdown of costs associated with undertaking the research as described in the proposal. 


Programme specific information

The NIHR RIGHT programme forms part of the UK government's commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA). Through RIGHT, NIHR provides research funding to support cutting-edge interdisciplinary applied health research in key areas in ODA-eligible countries where a strategic and targeted investment can result in a transformative impact. 

The NIHR RIGHT Programme will provide funding in the range of £1-5 million per application (maximum £5 million) for a period of 3-4 years for partnerships led by two Joint Lead Applicants (one from a ODA-eligible country and one from a UK institution) and additional Co-Applicants from ODA-eligible LMIC, UK and non-LMIC institutions for research projects in areas of unmet need as detailed in the guidance for applicants. 

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 NIHR RIGHT 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 programmes should be raised with the relevant NIHR Coordinating Centre as early as possible.

For more details about ODA see the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) What is ODA webpage. Additionally, further information can be found at:

  1. OECD Development Co-operation Directorate
  2. Official development assistance – definition and coverage
  3. OECD Is it ODA? factsheet


General information

2.1a Stage 1 submission

Applicants are to provide a total figure for costs on the application form required to undertake the proposed research.  

At Stage 1, applicants are also required to provide further details of the cost breakdown (in particular the anticipated split of funds between the UK, ODA-eligible countries and any other international parties by uploading a completed RIGHT Stage 1 Finance Summary Form.

For international cost in foreign currencies, applicants are required to provide details of the exchange rate used in the application. NIHR guidance on exchange rates for NIHR Global Health Research Programme Contract Holders is available on the NIHR website.

Applicants should undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing.  Eligible costs for this programme are described below (under Stage 2 submission). 

Please note as detailed below, Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs up to 80% full economic costs (FEC).  These costs are calculated on the basis of TRAC methodology. The total figure given at Stage 1 (i.e. the total funds being requested from NIHR) should include:

  • the 80% FEC value for UK HEIs;
  • 100% cost (direct and indirect) for ODA-eligible countries; and 
  • 100% direct costs only for non-ODA eligible countries.  

Please see Information on different types of organisations section below for further details.

All the costs provided in the application should be in Pound Sterling/GBP/£.


2.1b Proposal and partnership development award

Applicants that are successful at Stage 1 and invited to submit a Stage 2 application are eligible for a Proposal and Partnership Development Award (PPDA), subject to satisfactory submission of a PPDA application. PPDA provides funding of up to £10,000 to support partnership development and the preparation of the full proposal to be submitted for Stage 2.

To be considered for a PPDA, applicants must complete a separate PPDA application and submit it at the SAME time as submitting their RIGHT Stage 1 application in the RMS deadline Wednesday, 15 January 2020 at 1pm.

For further information on PPDA, please refer to the PPDA guidance for applicants

Please Note: NIHR may challenge PPDA proposed costs that it does not consider appropriate or does not offer Value for Money. 

Lead Applicant organisations will need to pre-finance PPDA activities if successfully awarded a PPDA. Applicants should not start spending/activities until their PPDA has been approved by NIHR.


Successful Stage 1 applicants are required to complete and submit a Request for Reimbursement Form to finance&, which should indicate itemised expenses claimed, together with evidence of spend and an invoice. The Request for Reimbursement Form will be sent to successful applicants with the award letter. Payment will only be processed once all evidence listed below is provided.  The minimum evidence required is the standard: 

1) evidence of approval (authorisation to travel from host institution)

2) payment evidence


3) for travel expenditure, evidence of travel

For example, air travel will have ticket, boarding pass, travel authorization and evidence of payment, and local travel may have any form of approval and travel ticket.

Once NIHR receives the completed Request for Reimbursement Form, it will be processed to be included in the next payment cycle of routine request for reimbursements subject to approval.

During the course of the PPDA, should they anticipate any changes in the approved budget, applicants are required to inform NIHR and seek prior approval before incurring the cost. The total budget should not exceed £10,000.


2.2 Stage 2 submission

Stage 2 applications require a detailed financial plan. 

Applicants will need to justify any significant material increase in costs from Stage 1 to Stage 2 application and should not exceed the total maximum budget of £5 million. These costs will be used to assess value for money.

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 finance form is embedded within the finance form.
  • 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 budget available. 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 the proposed research is expected to start on 01 June 2020 then its second year starts 01 June 2021.
  • Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation may be requested at a later date to support the application.
  • Funding and contracting must take place via the UK based lead HEI or Research Institute.
  • Payments will be made to the contracted organisation according to the agreed payment schedules and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their partner organisation(s) including those in LMICs. Any pre-financing to partner organisation(s) is at the contracted organisation’s risk.
  • Please ensure that all budgeted costs for partners in LMICs are converted and presented as Pound Sterling/GBP(£) in the budget.  The exchange rate used, as well as date / source of exchange rate should also be provided on the financial plan. NIHR guidance on exchange rates for NIHR Global Health Research Programme Contract Holders is available here.
  • Appropriate sub-contracts 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 HEI and other partner organisation input into the finance section of the application form.
  • Once an award has been made, the DHSC will require Contractors to provide regular financial statements regarding the use of funds.  As this funding must be ODA compliant, applicants will also be required to forecast their expenditure on a cash basis by calendar years on a quarterly basis.  The DHSC also reserves the right to send independent auditors to the host organisation and to partners involved in the research programme to confirm the actual use of funds.
  • Applications for RIGHT Call 3 may include studentships provided that these are co-terminus with the award. All studentships will be considered, including but not limited to MScs and PhDs.
  • Organisations which are unable to reclaim Value-Added Tax (VAT) should include costs inclusive of VAT, otherwise VAT must be excluded. Applicants are encouraged to seek advice of their VAT expert to determine the VAT status of their organisation. 

DHSC reserves the right to award less than the maximum requested in the application where it is considered appropriate


Information on different types of organisations

3.1. Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), UK based

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


3.2 NHS organisations

For applications that include NHS organisations, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid. No indirect costs will be funded.


3.3 Other UK based organisations

For applications that include other types of organisations based in the UK (e.g. charities, research institutes not in receipt of mainstream QR funding, local authorities, commercial organisations, etc), up to 100% of direct costs will be paid. Indirect costs can be requested and should be charged in proportion to the amount of staff effort requested on the funding application. The NIHR reserves the right to set limits on indirect costs charged.


3.4. Institutions based in LMICs

All costs including direct and indirect will be supported at 100%.


3.5. Other partner organisations (not based in LMICs or the UK)

For organisations based in a High Income Country (HIC) outside the UK, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid. Indirect costs for international organisations based in (non-UK) HICs are NOT supported by the NIHR RIGHT programme.


Direct costs

These are costs that are specific to the research that will be incurred by the Contractor (and any partners) in carrying out the proposed plans, which will be charged as the amount actually spent and can be supported by an audit record. 

They should comprise: 

4.1. Details of posts and salaries (posts and salaries summary) 

This section of the financial form presents an overview of all salary costs for staff members/roles (known or unknown) and relevant on-costs (i.e. pay increment dates, geographic weighting, superannuation, national insurance).

All staff funded through the NIHR RIGHT award should be listed and their annual salaries must be stated.  Where staff are to be recruited as part of the proposed NIHR RIGHT award, please provide the expected average annual salary.  Use current rates of pay and build in any known annual increments. Nationally or locally agreed pay increases should be excluded. Salaries may be sought at a level appropriate to the skills, responsibilities and expertise necessary to carry out the role required, and to reflect the experience of a known individual, where this is in accordance with the salary scales and terms and conditions of service applying to the employing organisation. 

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 programme management and financial resource and capacity to support financial reporting and due diligence requirements. 

Student stipend costs for LMIC students, if applicable, should be included within the salary section. As a minimum stipend rates should match the rates set by UKRI.

Applicants can consider part-funding studentships (also see ‘Other Direct Costs’ below) or training posts and in-kind contributions to support research and wider infrastructure capacity development and ensure value for money.

In addition:

  • If there are any applicant(s) whose costs are not being claimed their details should still be included within this section, but do not include any actual costs. 
  • Salaries that are already fully or in-part funded by the NIHR must be declared in the justification of costs section and cannot be claimed for again. 
  • The Apprenticeship Levy can be included in the salary costs from 1 April 2017 where relevant.


4.2. Travel, subsistence and conference costs. 

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

A comprehensive breakdown of all costs should be provided.


4.2.1. 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 Only: If travel is by car, apply applicant 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). 

For LMIC based travel, local journeys must be charged according to the most appropriate (basic or standard) local rate.

4.2.2. Subsistence

Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with the travel, excluding any alcoholic beverages and tobacco. Per Diem payments for subsistence are not supported by NIHR.  

4.2.3. Conferences

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 attendance at a conference will mean the programme will not fund this cost. 


4.3. Equipment 

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. 

When considering equipment purchase also consider the requirements for, and availability of maintenance and servicing contracts for the equipment in the LMIC.  The proposed cost of all equipment to be purchased needs to be fully justified and all proposed costs should be good value for money. NIHR may challenge proposed costs that it does not consider appropriate or does not offer value for money.

UK HEIs who claim FEC cannot request equipment items that are included within the estates element of FEC.

Equipment purchase for use in the UK host organisations would not normally be supported. If equipment is required for the use in 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 bought within the NHS cannot be funded by the NIHR. Please ensure no NHS equipment costs are included in the application.

Costs of computers and laptops are normally restricted to a maximum of £650 each excluding VAT and 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 same type equipment is permitted.

NIHR considers any equipment and/or supplies purchased in part or fully from DHSC funds as programme assets if they have a useful life of more than one year; and either 

  1. the purchase price or development cost of the asset is in excess of £500 or equivalent in local currency; or 
  2. 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 
  3. can be considered an attractive item regardless of cost (e.g. mobile phones, cameras, laptops, tablets, satellite phones, vehicles, etc.).

NIHR Award Holders are expected to keep an up-to-date asset register, and report this to the NIHR on an annual basis.

At the end of the programme the equipment will remain the property of the Contractor or relevant Collaborator based in the UK or LMIC as appropriate and must continue to be used for ODA-eligible activities.  


4.4. Consumables 

This section includes 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.


4.5. Community Engagement and Involvement (if applicable)

Please include realistic costs for Community Engagement and Involvement considering the UNICEF Minimum Standards for Community Engagement. Involving people in the programme 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, which can be found following the links: 


4.6 Dissemination 

Any costs associated with publication, presentation or dissemination of findings (except related travel and subsistence or consumables costs) should be included here. 

All costs should be calculated on the basis of the lowest possible estimates. Any large costs should be further detailed with a breakdown of constituent parts or a timescale profile of the costs.  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.

Applicants may choose to submit an article based on their research to an open access publication, during the course of their project and throughout the review and publishing phase.  Depending on the publication, applicants 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.

Applicants should include an estimate for any APC in their funding applications, since NIHR expects that APCs will be covered by the funding award. 

Find out more in the NIHR open access policy.


4.7 Risk Management & Assurance 

Any costs associated with provision of appropriate risk management and assurance should be included here.

There are specific requirements for monitoring and financial assurance relating to the distribution and use of ODA funding.  We would expect to see appropriate financial resources allocated to cover the costs of due diligence checks, audits and financial capacity building in the LMIC.  These include, where appropriate, the cost of auditors or compliance monitoring provided by sub-contractors, and consultants. Costs for specific safeguarding activities are also permitted. 

To make effective arrangements for risk management and assurance, applicants should consider the financial systems and financial management capacity of their LMIC partner and the level of risk within the country, and tailor the assurance and monitoring processes appropriately.  We strongly recommend the Good Finance Grant Practice (GFGP) standard online assessment tool as a resource to support this process - 

Listed below are the type of costs that can be funded using risk and assurance budget.

Contribution to the following costs (for host / downstream partner):

  1. Proportionate audit costs
  2. Risk / due diligence assessment of downstream partner
  3. Training on compliance, risk management, governance
  4. Consultancy costs to achieve any of the above
  5. Any other costs directly attributable to risk management and assurance (for example development of assurance policies such as fraud, anti-corruption, risk management)

Eligibility conditions for costs in (1) - (5) above 

  • Reclaimable based on actuals
  • Fully disclosed especially the unit cost and number of units. Lump sum values are not permitted
  • Proportionate to entire organisational cost
  • Reasonable, economic and value for money
  • Allocated proportionately to the project, that is, the project pays no more than its fair share
  • Recurrent only if justifiable such as proportionate audit cost. Some of the costs are expected to be one off
  • Eligible as per funding guidelines
  • Achieves the objective which is to prevent or extinguish risk
  • Limited to the duration of the project
  • Is not claimed in any other project budget line where this is charged i.e. no double claim


4.8 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, software 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.

NIHR will fund full PhD and Master’s costs for LMIC students based in LMICs. Since RIGHT Call 2, NIHR will also fund studentship fees for LMIC students based in LMICs but registered at an institution in a HIC. LMIC student fees should be included within excel sheet/tab ‘10. Other Direct Costs’ and LMIC student stipend costs, if applicable, within excel sheet/tab ‘2. Annual Costs of Staff Posts’ (see Details of Posts and Salaries above).

In cases where the application includes LMIC PhD student fees at a HIC it is expected that the relevant Joint Lead Investigators will negotiate with the HIC institution for reduced fees for the LMIC candidate. English language training in the context of PhD registration is an eligible cost, provided clear justification and a strong value for money argument are given.

Please note: HIC studentship fees are eligible only for LMIC students. Studentship fees for a HIC student registered at an HIC institution would not be eligible, regardless of the programme of study.

Ethical and other regulatory approval specific to the proposed research can also be requested as part of “other direct costs”.


International costs – Direct & Indirect

For Stage 2, all costs associated with collaborating partners based in any of the countries on the Development Assistance Committee List  or (non-UK) HICs should be included here.  Any costs relating to international users of the research must also be contained within this section.  Applicants will need to clearly indicate how the funds will be spent. Please use the justification of costs section to provide further information if necessary.  

All costs must be at current prices and no inflationary uplifts should be incorporated into any international costs.

All costs should be split per institution and a comprehensive breakdown must be provided for all costs. 

Please include all LMIC student stipend costs within excel sheet/tab ‘2. Annual Costs of Staff Posts’.

International organisations are encouraged to include the financial resource necessary to support financial reporting requirements.

It is also necessary to provide details of the exchange rate used when calculating cost in LMICs.

For HIC-based international organisations, only direct costs (100%) are supported by the NIHR RIGHT programme.  


Indirect costs/overheads 

Indirect costs will be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the award.

They comprise, but not limited to: 

  • General office and basic laboratory consumables
  • Premises costs 
  • Library services/learning resources 
  • 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


6.1 UK-based HEI indirect costs

Total HEI indirect costs must be fully justified as to why these costs are being requested and how they will contribute to the overall research.  HEIs are permitted to claim estate and other indirect costs up to 80% FEC. 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 sections. 


6.2  LMIC-based organisations indirect costs

ODA-eligible LMIC institutions may include actual and real costs of undertaking the research. 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. LMIC based organisations indirect costs must be fully justified as to why these costs are being requested and how they will contribute to the overall research. 


6.3 NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services indirect costs

NHS indirect costs cannot be claimed through NIHR/DHSC programme funding.  NHS bodies or other providers of NHS services have been allocated NIHR Research Capability Funding (RCF) to contribute to the cost of hosting NIHR/DHSC-supported research. 


6.4 UK-based commercial or other partner organisation indirect costs

UK-based commercial or other partner organisations indirect costs must be fully justified as to why these costs are being requested and how they will contribute to the overall research. Indirect costs should be charged in proportion to the amount of research staff effort requested on the funding application form.  Up to 100% of direct costs will be paid. The NIHR reserves the right to set limits on indirect costs charged.  


6.5 (Non-UK) HIC-based commercial or other partner organisation indirect costs

Indirect costs are not eligible for HIC-based international organisations and will NOT be supported by the NIHR RIGHT programme.


External intervention costs 

If proposed research requires an intervention to be delivered in the LMIC applicants are permitted to claim for External Intervention Costs (EIC).  These are the costs that are additional to routine clinical treatment in the local setting. For comparison, in the UK these would be similar to NHS support or excess treatment costs.  

If the research involves an intervention being delivered in the UK, NHS standard AcoRD regulations in respect of NHS Support Costs and NHS Treatment costs apply.


Ineligible Costs

The following costs are not eligible under the NIHR RIGHT Programme:

  • Any costs that cannot be categorised as ODA as defined by the OECD from time to time. 
  • Paid for lobbying, which means using funds to fund lobbying (via an external firm or in-house staff) in order to undertake activities intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political activity; or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action.
  • Payments for activities of a political or exclusively religious nature.
  • Input VAT reclaimable by the contractor from HMRC.
  • Payments reimbursed or to be reimbursed by other public or private sector funding.
  • Contributions in kind (i.e. a contribution in goods or services, as opposed to money).
  • Entertaining (entertaining for this purpose means anything that would be a taxable benefit to the person being entertained, according to current UK tax regulations).
  • First and Business-class travel
  • Per diem costs for travel and subsistence for staff employed on the programme 
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Statutory fines, criminal fines or penalties.
  • Liabilities incurred before the issue of this funding agreement unless agreed in writing by DHSC.
  • The NIHR RIGHT Programme is not intended to meet the Treatment and Support costs associated with the research programme if it will be incurred in the UK. For these costs to be eligible they must be incurred overseas in DAC listed countries.
  • Funding will not be provided to meet the costs of basic/discovery research, or work which is not predominantly and directly relevant to the needs of developing countries.
  • NHS Equipment costs
  • Costs to establish and maintain new biobanks and bio-sample 
  • Indirect costs for HIC-based international organisations.
  • Contingency
  • Inflation or foreign exchange rate contingency


Justification of Costs

  • Applicants should provide a breakdown of how the costs included in their application provide value for money.  Justification for the resources requested should be provided. 
  • Applicants should describe clearly how their application will support global health research training and capacity building.
  • For Stage 2, please ensure that it is clear as to how exactly the costs have been calculated and allocated.  For example if planning to spend £100k on consumables applicants should ensure that they provide further information as to the price, type and numbers of items that will be purchased. Please provide a full justification for indirect costs requested clearly stating the methodology used to calculate these costs and how they represent good value for money.
  • The justification of costs sections can be found in the Financial Form, at the end of each spreadsheet (‘2. Annual cost of staff post’ to ’11. Indirect cost’).

Please contact finance& if you have any queries when completing the Financial Form.