RSS COVID-19 update

 
 

 

Government Support for Research

What has been announced?
On 27th June 2020 the UK Government announced two support packages aimed at protecting thousands of UK research jobs and “ground-breaking” research projects from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

The first package comprises long-term, low-interest loans, supplemented by small government grants, to cover up to 80% of the income losses that universities will experience due to the decline in international students. The funding scheme will be made available to research and high-priority projects, such as medical research, and will bolster universities that are taking their own steps towards making efficiencies to protect their research bases. 

The other support package will see the government make about £200m immediately available to support researchers’ salaries and other costs, such as for laboratory equipment and fieldwork. The total includes a £180m grant extension from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and further funding from National Academies. UKRI’s grant extension package will be used to sustain UKRI-funded research and fellowships affected by the pandemic. UKRI will also allow flexibility to redistribute likely grant underspends resulting from the disruption, which they estimate will be worth an additional £80m to the sector.
 

When will the funding be available?
The first package will be available to research-active universities impacted by the pandemic from Q4 this year.

The detail of the funding to support UKRI grant extensions, including the terms and conditions that apply, have not yet been announced by the government. 

 

How can I secure funding from these government schemes for my research?
Once we receive full details of the funding that will be made available to us by the Government and the conditions that will apply to our use of the funds we will provide information on the mechanism by which UKRI-funded PIs will be able to apply internally for support from the grant extension scheme.
 

Who can I contact for more information?
Please email David Law, Head of Research Operations (RSS), at d.a.i.law@bham.ac.uk

 

Furloughing – Extending staff on externally funded research projects

You will have been contacted over recent months to ascertain whether staff within your teams were eligible to be furloughed.  If you require clarity as to whether individual team members were furloughed please speak with your School/Institute Manager who will be able to advise.

The closing submission for this process was 3rd July 2020 in order for the furlough return to submitted to HMRC by 31st July 2020.  
Research Finance are working closely with HR to understand each of the staff that have been furloughed and the projects which they have been furloughed from.  We are also liaising with Payroll to understand the £ claim value associated with each individual team member.  We expect to receive all information by the end of July at the very latest.

Following receipt of the above information Research Finance will transfer staff costs associated to staff who have been furloughed off your research grants releasing this funding back to you.  This transfer will leave 20%-30% of the individuals salary cost on your project for the furlough period.  Each funder have varying rules about how we deal with the remaining staff charges on their grants.  We will therefore write out to the Colleges/PIs where staff have been furloughed to:

  1. Ensure that PIs have applied for no cost extensions from funders where this is appropriate.
  2. Outline our understanding at funder level about the process and what the funder will cover.
  3. Encourage you to submit a Fixed Term Contract staff extension request for your staff member offering a guide to the period of time that your grant will cover for furloughed individuals based on the funder rules.

Please note that if there are staff who have been furloughed who have a contract end date before 30 September 2020 who need urgent extensions we will need to take a pragmatic approach to extend them until the information becomes available.

For staff ending before 30 September only please contact Juliet Ralphs – J.C.Ralphs@bham.ac.uk in the first instance who will offer some text that can be used to submit alongside your CPAG (College Post Approval Group) case to allow this extension to be processed.  Your School/Institute Manager will support you to navigate the CPAG process.

 

Working with us during campus closure

RSS is continuing to provide the fullest support possible to our academic community on high priority activities whilst working remotely and in unusual circumstances.

To ensure the best service possible, we are encouraging all colleagues to work with us in prioritising requests for support and being considerate in terms of providing sufficient time ahead of deadlines for requests to be appropriately considered and processed. For example, with new research proposals, we encourage academic staff to get in touch with your local Research Development and Support teams at the earliest opportunity before a deadline. Research contracts are still being received through Worktribe in the usual way. At present we are prioritising any matters related to COVID-19 research as urgent and we will try to meet other urgent requests but please be aware that by doing so other matters will be delayed further from ‘our usual service standard’.

RSS is actively monitoring our main research funders’ policies both with respect to deadlines for proposals and existing, funded projects.  We are working with Professor Tim Softley PVC (R&KT) and other Russell Group research offices to actively engage these funders to seek clarifications especially in relation to projects that have been disrupted due to Covid-19 and will be posting updates on this page.

 

About the approach from our main funders

 

The approach of our main funders is compiled in one document, which is available for download (version 28th May).

For the latest information, in case of doubt or unable to find the relevant information on the funders' page, contact the relevant RSS team who will more than happy to advise.

 

Some key advice:

  • Funders may decide to changes deadlines for proposals and reporting or their approach to funded projects e.g. granting a no-cost extension in view of the exceptional circuntances surrounding COVID-19. Academic staff are strongly encouraged to check with funders if the deadline(s) they are working to has changed or not. Do not assume that it has changed as funders are taking different approaches.
  • We strongly advise academic staff to avoid delaying proposal submission and grant reporting activities to your funders unnecessarily, even if deadlines have been extended.  This will hopefully avoid creating a backlog of submissions or claims and impacting future submissions and claims.
  • If delays in submission or claims are unavoidable please discuss with relevant RSS team.
  • In the event of unavoidable delays which put us at risk of not meeting any funder deadlines for bid submissions or post award reporting it is important that academic and Professional Services work as one in requesting extensions from funders to enable activity to be completed.
 

COVID-19 related funding opportunities

Funders have issued a number of funding opportunities to tackle COVID-19 and its impact on people, society and the economy.

Contact your Research Development and Support Team to find out more and get some help in applying.

Additional ways to find information:

 

 

To go visit the RSS main page, click here.
To visit the University COVID-19 latest update and FAQs, click here

 

Colleges

Professional Services