Briefing note on finances for funding bids
Briefing note on finances for funding bids for applied health, social care and public health research
The costing of a research proposal can be time-consuming and confusing, particularly if the researcher team, and bid, spans different organisations, or types of organisation, i.e. a Higher Education Institution (HEI), NHS Trust or Any Qualified Provider (AQP) as defined by the Department of Health.
Before you start
It is crucial to check the funder’s guidelines on eligible costs in detail. You may think you know what they are, however they can change over time.
Obtaining financial details for a bid will take some time, especially if several partners are involved. It is highly recommended to make early contact with all finance teams, even if the fine detail of the bid is evolving. Organisations will have an internal process, including finance, for funding bids. It is essential to check and follow this.
Representatives from the finance teams will need to approve and sign off the costs and this takes time which should be included in your timeline for submission.
Research costs: the direct costs of the research which will end when the research ends, for example, salaries, equipment, patient and public involvement, dissemination, Clinical Trials Unit costs, open access fees, consumables. They will be needed for all partners.
*NHS treatment costs: these are patient care costs which may continue if the patient care service is provided after the end of the research.
*NHS support costs: these are additional patient care costs which will cease once the study has ceased even if the patient care involved continues.
†Excess treatment costs: these are the difference between the treatment costs of the continuing patient care service and the costs of current standard care.
Who do you contact?
As determining costs in applied health, social care and public health research is complex it is essential that you contact your Clinical Research Network (CRN) early in the development of your proposal: firstname.lastname@example.org. This contact is necessary regardless of whether you are applying from an HEI, an NHS or social care provider, an AQP or from public health.
The CRN can support you in completing the Schedule of Cost Attribution Template (SoECAT) which is required by NIHR and other funders.
Applying from HEI or with HEI partners
If you are applying from an HEI or have HEI partners, you need the appropriate finance team(s) in the HEI(s) in addition to the CRN. HEI use the TRansparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology to calculate the Full Economic Cost (FEC) of applications, which accounts for indirect costs and overheads. Check the funder guidance, as not all will pay 100% FEC.
Applying from NHS Trust, AQP or have NHS Trust or AQP partners
If you are applying from an NHS Trust/AQP or have NHS/AQP partners you need the appropriate finance team(s) AND your local CRN. The CRN will assist you in attributing costs to the appropriate NHS cost categories via the AcoRD process (Attributing the costs of health and social care Research and Development) for the SoECAT. The NHS Trust finance teams can then provide the actual costs (which may vary between Trusts).
Clinical Trials Unit
If your proposal involves a clinical study you need to contact a Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) for advice. Depending on the level of support you require, there will be a proportional charge. Charges vary between CTU and therefore you should contact the unit you plan to use to obtain an estimate of costs.
NIHR Doctoral Fellowship applications, even if your host is an NHS Trust, you will need the HEI to provide details of the PhD fees. The HEI may ask for other ‘per head’ costs, sometimes called ‘bench fees’. You need to consider how these are accounted for in your application as NIHR will not pay these, or for supervisor time.
For Fellowships from other funders, check what is covered by the funding (usually the HEI PhD fees) and importantly, what is not, so you can cover these costs via a different source.