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Covid-19 Research Grants and Contracts Update – University of Reading

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  • Covid-19 Information

Covid-19 Research Grants and Contracts Update

For the latest information from research grant funders, please click on the Covid-19 research grants funder statements in the menu to the left, or click Covid-19 Research Grants Funder Statements. For European Union funded projects click on the Covid-19 Research Grants EU Statements page for specific funder information from the EU.

 

 

This page was last updated on 13 January 2021

Lockdown update - 07 January 2021

Please see below for details of the University of Reading UKRI costed extension fund which can be used to provide additional funding for projects that have been disrupted due to COVID.  Projects disrupted due to the January 2021 lockdown, may be eligible to receive additional funding.

UKRI are extending some deadlines (e.g. NERC standard round and Future Leader Fellowships) and we expect extensions to other schemes in the coming days. Please check funder pages for changes to application deadlines.

Research Grants

Some major research grant funders (including UKRI and the EU) have published advice for grant holders concerned about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on their grants. All are taking a pragmatic approach and will approve extensions, and potentially cover additional costs incurred, where work has been directly affected by COVID-19.

Examples of disruption could be:

  • Not being able to travel to countries to carry out research due to travel restrictions or health reasons

  • Collaborators being unable to travel to the UK

  • Buildings and labs being closed and therefore practical work having to be delayed

  • Participant trials having to be paused.

 

Funder policies on COVID and extensions

The Wellcome Trust has recently announced automatic cost extensions of grants due to end in 2020 and 2021 and some other funders (BHF, Leverhulme and NIHR) have said they will consider costed extensions on a case by case basis. However, some of our major funders have yet to confirm if they will consider costed extensions while the Horizon 2020 programme has confirmed that grant values cannot be increased. See our funder guidance for the latest statements.

UKRI have recently announced their COVID-19 Grant Extension Allocation (UKRI CoA). This provides a block grant that institutions can use for costed extensions to grants that have been disrupted due to COVID-19 to allow for their completion. All grant holders of eligible UKRI grants (including Innovate) were sent a survey in the Summer of 2020 and many projects have been granted additional funds. If your project has faced further disruption due to the lockdown in January/February 2021, please see here for details and guidance on the UKRI costed extension fund at Reading.

UKRI are currently seeing a high volume of no-cost extensions and requests for these should only be requested approximately 3 months before the end of the project unless there are pressing reasons why an extension is needed before then.

British Academy - British Academy have contacted eligible fellowship holders to offer up to 6 months costed extensions.

Royal Society - Royal Society have also contacted eligible fellowship holders to offer up to 6 months costed extensions.

 

Suggested approach for non-UKRI grants

If your grant is in its final 3-6 months and is, or has been, affected by the pandemic to such an extent that you are unable to complete some of the work within current grant timescales and there are no alternatives, then you check the funder guidance and should speak to them about an extension (cost or no-cost depending on project budgets and funder policy). In all cases, you should let your Research Accountant know and advise them of the funder's response.

  • For BA and Royal Society, changes should be requested through Flexigrant

  • For Wellcome, use their grant management system

For grants with more than 6 months remaining, you should note the disruption to your project and monitor the progress you are able to make. You should be in a position to request an extension towards the end of your grant to accommodate the disruption caused if you have not been able to redesign or reschedule your project activities.

Details of the specific statements published by the funders can be found here but it is important to note that this is an evolving situation and we expect that more detail we will published by funders over the coming months.


 

Contract research, consultancy and technical services

If you have a contract with an external organisation (e.g. contracts with industry, Met Office or ECMWF) to deliver a set piece of research, consultancy or technical services please check the agreement you are working to and establish how much of the project delivery will be impacted by the current situation. For example you may be able to do a lot from home and alter slightly the timing and order of project deliverables, so the effect could be minimal. Speak to your funder informally to establish whether objectives, deliverables or timescales can be amended.

Some funders, such as the Met Office for their CSSP China awards, have issued guidance for grant holders so please check with your funder if they have specific requirements (some guidance is contained within our funder guidance pages).

Any changes are then likely to require a formal contract amendment, in which case please contact your Contacts Manager or Associate; similarly if a formal notification is required please contact your Contacts Manager or Associate.

If you are unable to locate your contract, please contact your Contacts Manager or Associate for a copy.

Furloughing research staff

If staff are unable to work at all during this period, it may be possible for them to be furloughed.  Several funders have encouraged this to be used where staff are unable to work and have released guidance on how to deal with this.  Generally, if staff are furloughed, then the grant will not be charged

Wellcome have confirmed that staff should be paid at 100% during furlough but have said grant funds could be used to make up the 20% shortfall in salaries. Please note that if grant holders are claiming the supplementary funding on offer, they can't make use of furlough.

British Heart Foundation have said they encourage furloughing where staff cannot work and they will cover the shortfall in funding via additional funds.

See individual funder statements for more details.

 

studentships

Some studentship projects may have been disrupted during this period for a variety of reasons, for example, if labs and buildings have been closed or access to critical archives has been unavailable for significant periods of time. In many cases, students would have been able to work from home even if the activities undertaken had changed. For many students, moving forward, it may be necessary (where possible) to revise objectives, and adjust or adapt their research projects to mitigate delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

If it isn't, or hasn't been, possible for work to continue or be adapted/adjusted, extensions to funding may have to be sought.

 

Extensions to studentships

UKRI, following the 'Phase 1 Covid-19 funding extensions' announced in April 2020, have now published the Phase 2 funding policy for Covid-19 Phase two doctoral extensions as well as document containing frequently asked questions.  Detailed information and guidance for students impacted by the pandemic is available on the UKRI website.  In Phase 2, it is the responsibility of the University, rather than the students' home training grants (e.g. DTPs and CDTs) to consider applications for funding extensions.  The University's governance plan on how to manage and prioritise Phase 2 funding has been approved by UKRI.  The Graduate School will be sending communications to eligible students and their supervisors by the end of January 2021, with details about the funding extension application process.

 

Contact information for studentship queries:

  1. For UKRI DTP and/or CDT studentships (e.g. NERC SCENARIO, AHRC SWW DTP, ESRC SeNSS DTP, EPSRC DTP), please contact the DTP/CDT administrator (where relevant) or the Graduate School.
  2. For grant-funded studentships (e.g UKRI CDAs and BHF studentships), check the funder guidance and the PI should speak to the funder about an extension, letting the Studentships team in Research Accounts know.
  3. For University studentships, please contact the Graduate School for advice.
  4. For industry-funded studentships (with contracts), it is recommended that the PIs have an informal conversation with the funder as to whether objectives, deliverables or timescales can be amended and then speak to your Contracts Managers or Associate.  

RES and Research Accounts support

All RES and Research Accounts staff are equipped to work from home and we are hoping that we can maintain business as usual as far as applications, contracts, offer acceptance/project set up and grant finance queries are concerned. Please contact you usual contacts within the teams via email as per normal.

We may experience significant staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities and therefore will have to reduce our service provision to the essential activities and timescales for responses may increase. We are asking staff to give us as much time and notice as possible and to adhere to the internal 5 working day deadline for applications.  We may be unable to deal with short notice proposals or requests during times of significant staff shortage.

 

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