Cabinet Office
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New standards in government grants

Cabinet Office has published new standards to improve the management of government grants.

The government is fully committed to the highest standards in grant administration to prevent fraud and ensure that grants are spent as intended.

The government has engaged key partners in the academic and research communities to inform the development of the new standards. This will be implemented on a recommended best practice basis with the flexibility to ensure that research and innovation grants are not adversely affected. The standards are consistent with the current best practice and will continue to be implemented in a proportionate way.

In the case of research grants, academic autonomy is critical to the strength of science and research. Furthermore, informing policy and public debate is an integral part of the research process. The new approach includes clear guidance for research grant managers that activities such as responding to select committees and consultations are appropriate for inclusion in their research grant terms.

In addition, the following activities are approved for all government research grants including for example those awarded to the National Academies:

  • publishing and publicising the results of research paid for using taxpayer funded grants
  • hosting science and research communication events, for example, Science festivals, Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition, visits, breakfasts, dinners or receptions, seminars etc., use of newsletters and campaigns, and sharing information with Parliament to expound greater understanding of research, its outcomes or launch a research project or equipment
  • working with or through a third party organisation or commercial partners, which are not professional lobbying organisations, to conduct, communicate or publish research findings and inform policy
  • contributing expert scientific and academic advice to inform government policy and funding or make the case for science
  • developing proposals for future research grants

The new standards do not alter the flexibility that departments and partner organisations have to offer multi-year grant awards and apply a risk based approach to their grant making.

The new standards apply only to general grants made by departments and their Arm’s Length Bodies using Exchequer funding. They do not apply to Grant-in-Aid or formula grants, such as HEFCE Quality Research funding. Robust assurance and accountability arrangements are also already in place for such formula-based grants.


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