Reward and recognition for public contributors: a guide to the payment of fees and expenses
Principles of payment
This guide for public contributors describes the NIHR Central Commissioning Facility (CCF) policy on the payment of fees and expenses to members of the public.
‘Public contributor’ is an umbrella term that CCF uses to describe members of the public who take part in patient and public involvement activities. We use the INVOLVE 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.”
It is based on guidance that has been agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care (NIHR Programmes: Payment and reimbursement rates for public involvement 2009) and aligns with guidance developed by the NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC).
As a public contributor you will be offered a fee when we ask you to get involved in a task such as reviewing a research funding application or attending a committee 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.
Fees 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 a contract of employment with CCF or the research programmes that we manage.
You are not obliged to accept a fee. If you prefer not to claim a fee please tell the member of CCF staff who has asked you to get involved. Or you can donate the fee to a registered charity of your choice. Again, please let us know.
Who is eligible for payment of a fee?
We offer a fee to public contributors who:
- are a member of the public (as defined by INVOLVE) and
- are being asked by CCF to provide a public perspective and
- are not in receipt of a full time salary from public funds.
If you do 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 totally unrelated to the activity being asked of you by CCF and
- you intend to undertake the activity for CCF in your free time, such as through taking annual leave or outside your normal working hours.
How payments are made
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 guide 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 (see the appendices for examples of the forms we use). 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 six weeks to be processed and will be made directly into your bank account. Please note the payment will appear on your bank statement as 'LGC Ltd' and not 'CCF' or 'NIHR'.
If you prefer to donate your fee 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
If you do accept payment of a fee, this is treated as part of your overall income and you are personally responsible for any income tax or National Insurance contribution liability. CCF 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. For free, confidential advice you can contact the Benefits Advice Service for involvement.
In relation to this and other matters, you may also find it useful to refer to INVOLVE’s guide: What you need to know about payment: An introductory guide for members of the public who are considering active involvement in NHS, public health or social care research (2011).
CCF’s Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) team is not able to offer expert advice but can support you in the process of getting advice.
Rates of payment
The rates of fee payments outlined below are based on guidance agreed with the Department of Health and Social Care. The different rates offered are intended to reflect the volume and nature of activities undertaken, and are being interpreted and applied consistently.
Payments most often relate to involvement in the activities of four NIHR research programmes that CCF manages:
- NIHR Invention for Innovation Programme (i4i)
- NIHR Programme Grants for Applied Research (PGfAR)
- NIHR Policy Research Programme (PRP)
- NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme (RfPB)
Fee payments are grouped as follows:
- involvement in committees
- involvement in reviews
- involvement in other tasks and activities.
There are four daily fee rates that are offered to public members of funding committees. The same daily fee will be offered for each day of a two day meeting with a similar level of work.
The rates reflect differences in the volume and nature of activities required before, during and after a meeting. Each of the rates covers both preparation for, and attendance at meetings. Some may also include follow up activities after a meeting.
This is the standard daily fee offered for preparation and attendance at committee meetings, teleconference calls or providing written assessments on a number of applications. For example:
This is the fee for attendance at meetings or teleconference calls with considerable additional preparation and / or responsibilities at the meeting or teleconference call. For example:
This is the fee for attendance at meetings or teleconference calls with extensive additional preparation and / or responsibilities at or after the meeting or teleconference call. For example:
This is the fee for attendance at, and preparation for, meetings involving assessment of multi-stage, complex grant applications or a very high volume of less complex applications. For example:
There are four fee rates offered for the activity of reviewing funding applications and research reports. They reflect differences in the volume and nature of reviews. Please note that these fees do not apply to the process of reviewing funding applications as part of committee or committee meetings, which is covered in section 6.1 above.
For completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices) of no more than 50 pages in total per funding round or competition.
For completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices) of between 51 and 200 pages in total per funding round or competition.
For completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices) of between 201 and 400 pages in total per funding round or competition.
For completing reviews of documents (including reference and appendices, original application form where relevant) of over 401 pages in total per funding round or competition.
Involvement in other tasks and activities
A fee payment is also offered to public contributors for their involvement in activities other than committees, committees and reviews (6.1 and 6.2 above). For example, this includes one-off events such as being part of an interview committee or a longer-term but time-limited activity, such as being a project advisor. The fee offered will depend on the volume and nature of the particular activity.
For involvement in a task or activity requiring little or no preparation and which equates to approximately one hour of activity or less.
For involvement in a task or activity likely to require some preparation and which equates to approximately two hours of activity.
For involvement in a task or activity where preparation is required and which equates to approximately half a day’s activity.
For involvement in one-off, all-day meetings.
For involvement in all-day meetings that require substantial preparation and / or responsibilities at the meeting.
Changes to fee 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 fee 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 fee may be offered depending on the amount of preparation you have undertaken ahead of the meeting. Similarly, in exceptional circumstances, if you do not complete a review a nominal fee may be offered. Any changes of this type will be confirmed in writing.
CCF will reimburse any reasonable 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. Please keep all your receipts as these must be attached and submitted with your expense claim form (see Appendix A). Please email your completed form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, please post to:
Finance & Contracts
15 Church Street
Twickenham, TW1 3NL
If you attend a meeting organised by CCF such as a funding committee 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 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 feasible.
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 CCF staff in advance of booking. It may also 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 £115
- elsewhere in the UK up to £85
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 CCF, refreshments are always provided and a lunch is provided for all-day meetings. Please ensure that CCF are aware of any special dietary requirements 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 £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 CCF will reimburse are described below.
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 CCF. 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 discuss and agree this with CCF staff in advance.
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 CCF staff in advance.
If you require hard copies of any documents related to the task you are doing for CCF we are happy to print and post these to you. If, exceptionally, you need to print documents at home you may claim for printing at the rate of 5 pence per sheet of A4. However, for large documents (50 pages or more) please agree this with us in advance.
If you need to post any items to us, you may reclaim this cost. For example, you may choose to return (by registered post) paper copies of confidential documents for shredding. If, exceptionally, postage amounts to £5 or more you will need to submit a receipt.
CCF 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.
Learning and development
Occasionally we may ask you attend an event because we consider it is essential learning and development for your role as a public contributor. In which case, we will offer a fee 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.
If you have any questions or queries about claiming fees and expenses please raise them with the member of staff who is your main point of contact at CCF and/or with the PPI team:
Yvonne Anderson, Assistant Programme Manager
Phone: 020 8843 8041