Coronavirus (COVID-19): information for grant applicants and grantholders

This page has information for anyone applying for, or who holds, a Cancer Research UK grant.

Applying for Cancer Research UK funding

How is the Spring funding round of panel and committee meetings affected? 
In normal circumstances, most of our funding committees would meet to award funds twice a year; in Spring and Autumn. In mid-March we made the difficult decision to defer all our Spring funding committees. Recent developments made it increasingly difficult for people to attend meetings. In addition, many of our clinical members are rightly cautious about limiting risk for themselves and their patients, especially as their priorities shift towards responding to developments in the healthcare system.  

This is now a major financial crisis and it is sensible for us to delay so that we can understand what the implications will be for Cancer Research UK.   

What will happen to my application submitted to the Spring funding round? 
If you submitted an application for the current Spring funding round it will be considered alongside those in the Autumn funding round. 

Given the postponement of the Spring funding round and disruption to research activity, will CRUK be providing bridging grants?  
In some limited circumstances we will be providing bridge funding, and we will contact you if you’re eligible for this.  

Will the Autumn funding round be going ahead?  
We still plan to open for applications to the Autumn funding rounds. We cannot predict the level of funding that will be available at this point, but the autumn budget for each committee will represent the total spend for 20/21. We will communicate any changes to our research community as soon as we can.  

In future funding arounds, how will reviewers take into account this period of disruption when assessing applications? 
Any disruptions to research funding activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be taken into consideration by our panels and committees to make appropriate adjustments when assessing your record of outputs, research achievements, and career progression. 

If you’re funded by Cancer Research UK

If you’re a researcher or student funded by us, we understand this will be a period of significant disruption and anxiety for you and your teams. Here we outline the ways we can help support you through this period of disruption and help to minimise the impact on your research activities by offering as much flexibility and support as we can.  

For clinical academics, Clinical Research Training Fellows and Research Nurses

I’m a clinician, will CRUK support me being seconded back to the NHS to support front line service delivery in response to COVID-19?
We fully support our clinical academics, Clinical Research Training Fellows (CRTFs) and research nurses, at their discretion, being seconded back to the NHS to support front line service delivery.  The urgent patient care comes first and you can return to clinical practice if required. The exceptions would be in those situations where there would be a duty of care for cancer patients on certain clinical trials. Such decisions must be made locally.  

I’m a clinical academic seconded back to the NHS, what will happen to my grant and how will my salary be covered?
For clinical academics seconded back to the NHS, our expectation is that the NHS will cover your salary whilst working on the COVID-19 response. Please discuss with your host institution how they intend to manage the salary reimbursement. 

If you’re a CRUK clinical fellow, please send us an email to let us know you’re stopping work on research. For all clinical staff, your institution should keep a record of the duration of the redeployment (start/end dates) and any salary contributions recoverable from the NHS. 

You can also request a no-cost extension to your grant or studentship (see below).

For all CRUK grantholders

I’m funded by CRUK, how will CRUK’s live grants be affected by CRUK’s funding cuts?
To date CRUK estimates a 20-25% drop in income in FY20/21. This comes as the unprecedented measures to control the global pandemic have had an impact on our ability to fundraise: our shops across the nation have closed their doors; all our events including Race for Life have been cancelled or postponed until the autumn and the downturn in the economy is having a direct impact on legacy values. 

The latest information on our predicted income means that we are forced to look for savings across our current portfolio. In addition, we are also cutting the costs of our operations across the charity.

You can find out more about how CRUK is responding to this crisis in our open letter to cancer researchers.

How has CRUK made decisions about what funding to cut?
Making cuts to research funding is a very difficult decision for CRUK to make under any circumstances. Based on what we know now and driven by the urgent need to make changes to mitigate the immediate cash challenges, we have worked hard to ensure that the cuts are made strategically to limit the damage on the community and make provisions that will secure the long-term sustainability of the UK cancer research eco-system. 

A consequence of the global pandemic and social distancing measures is that most labs, other than those closely related to the COVID-19 response, have closed and lab-based research will naturally be reduced. We hope that the associated decrease in research costs will go some way to offset the in-year cuts to live grants and minimise the impact.

This is an incredibly challenging time for everyone and we know that news of these cuts will be difficult to hear. We are committed to working with all our centres, institutes and researchers over the coming weeks to help mitigate the impact on their work and staff. We need to make some tough choices, but we want to be as flexible as we can.

How will I be informed about cuts to my grant?
We will be writing to you to inform you how your grant has been affected. We will write to you with your revised grant values in April and May 2020.

What flexibility will CRUK offer me in managing my grant?
We will offer you as much flexibility as we can in managing your award and we understand your research activities may have to be adapted in light of COVID-19. We’ll offer to delay your start date, offer you a no cost extension and to suspend your grant. 

We’ll be more flexible with the use of underspend and budget virements to cover exceptional and additional costs due to COVID-19 such as change in staffing costs, downscaling and upscaling of animal colonies, freezer storage costs etc or other costs in line with direct research costs allowable under our Costs Guidance

Will CRUK waive the current budget virement rules for vacant posts and equipment on my grant?
Our grant conditions usually stipulate you can’t ordinarily vire from a post vacant for 6 months or more. Given the present circumstances, we will waive that stipulation if a post is affected by delays due to COVID-19. We will also allow virement from unused equipment budgets. If you need to repurpose funds from a post vacant for 6 months or more or equipment to use for additional and exceptional costs due to COVID-19, you can do this. 

What should I do if I’m not able to conduct my research at the moment?
We understand your research may be disrupted and alternative research activities may need to be considered/implemented where feasible. You can propose any appropriate, alternative research activities and we’ll consider requests for no cost extensions (see below).  

Where my lab is closed, can research staff salaries be charged to the grant? 
Salaries funded by the grant can be charged to the grant throughout this period and you can apply for a no cost extension if needed (see below). Unfortunately, we are not in a position to fund costed extensions across the board. The government has announced a range of business continuity measures which are intended to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic. We would of course encourage your institution to explore these options fully if and while you are unable to work (see next question).

We understand that staffing may need to change due to the disruption in activities and CRUK will be supportive and flexible so you can use any underspend on the award to cover additional staffing costs to cover this period of disruption. You can also repurpose funds from a post vacant for 6 months or more.

What is CRUK’s position on the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
If your employer determines you/your team are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), we encourage you to take advantage of the scheme if you feel it is the right approach in managing your grant. Your CRUK grant funding can be used to cover any shortfall in payments through the CJRS, provided that:
•    Any salary top up for a researcher whose salary is usually funded by CRUK should be in line with University/employer policy (i.e. CRUK grants aren’t the exception). 
•    As with all related policies, we reserve the right to change our position if the Government extends its furlough scheme for a longer period.
As this is a Government scheme, they can provide you further guidance on whether an employer can furlough their staff.
 
How can I delay my start date?
You can write to us to request delaying your start date by up to 6 months. Providing we have no concerns from a scientific perspective, we are prepared to waive the rule in our Grant Conditions that stipulates you must activate the Grant within 3 months of the start date. 

If, prior to COVID-19, you had already delayed your start date for several months and you now need a further delay of up to 6 months, we will also consider this, so please do contact us.

When and how can I request a no cost extension?
If you’re a grantholder, CRUK is supportive of no cost extension requests that can be made in writing to us. We understand that the period of time for research activities to get back up to speed again after the disruption may likely be longer than just the initial period of disruption.

We’re currently prioritising requests for no cost extensions to grants with less than 18 months left on the Grant Award Letter. If your grant has less than 18 months to run, you can either request a no cost extension now or wait until your research has resumed and a clearer understanding of disruption is known.

If you have more than 18 months left to run on your award, we’ll be supportive in the future of your request, but we ask that you come back to us when there’s less than 18 months left on the Grant Award Letter.

If your intended original start date is not yet in the past, you can request a delay your start date instead of a no cost extension. 

When and how can I request to suspend my award?
We’ll consider requests to suspend your grant if you want to pause payments and activities on the grant. Please let us know in writing the proposed suspension dates to your grant.

Can I apply for a costed extension?
We’re not in a position offer costed extensions due to the impact of COVID-19 on our fundraising income. If you’ve already approached us about a possible costed extension, unfortunately it won’t be considered.

CRUK will only consider further costed extensions where it is allowable under our existing policies (for example eg parental/sick leave and clinical trials). As above, whilst we’re not able to provide you additional funding, we are offering as much flexibility in managing your grant as we can.

How will CRUK take into account any period of inactivity on my grant?
We understand this period of inactivity on grants will be disruptive to your work. We'll take this into account when assessing research progress, outputs and career progression. We’ll work together with you to adjust expectations about whether the full research studies can be carried out, what can be delivered and achieved during the programme of work once we all understand more clearly the impact of the disruption on research.

For other research staff funded by CRUK

What is CRUK’s policy if I’m unwell, need to self-isolate or have caring responsibilities for someone affected?
We’ll follow the policy of your Host Institution if any staff on a grant are unwell, need to self-isolate or have caring responsibilities for someone affected.

My salary is funded by CRUK, what paid sick leave entitlements will CRUK cover?
If your salary is grant-funded by CRUK and you need to take a period of sick leave, paid sick leave entitlements can be charged to the Grant in accordance with the Host Institution's usual policy. If your salary is part-funded by the Grant, paid sick leave entitlements may be charged to the Grant on a pro-rata basis.

I’ve incurred travel costs but can no longer travel, can I charge these to my grant?
If you’re a researcher (or student) funded by us and you now cannot travel due to government/official advice, or it poses a risk to you (due to an underlying medical condition, etc) you can use underspend to cover reasonable incurred costs, where it’s not covered by insurance. This includes reasonable travel, subsistence, childcare and conference costs where the purpose of the planned travel related to the grant and costs were eligible under our Costs Guidance.

For students funded by CRUK

What is the impact of funding cuts on CRUK’s student training accounts?
Whilst CRUK is having to make some tough decisions and cut funding across the portfolio, our aim is to limit the impact on the long-term future of cancer research in the UK. To this end, training accounts for non-clinical PhD students and the clinical academic training programmes for clinical PhD students have been protected as best we can. If your studentship is attached to a parent programme, programme foundation award or fellowship, your studentship may be subject to cuts as part of their overall award, but in all cases your student stipend must be protected. 
  
What is CRUK’s policy if I’m unwell, need to self-isolate or have caring responsibilities for someone affected, what?
We’ll follow the policy of your Host Institution if any staff on a grant are unwell, need to self-isolate or have caring responsibilities for someone affected.

What paid sick leave entitlements will CRUK cover for students?
If you’re a non-clinical student funded by us and you need to take a period of sick leave, we will provide funding for paid sick leave entitlements for a duration as determined by CRUK in line with our studentship entitlements for long-term leave outlined in our parental or other long-term leave policy.

For Clinical Research Training Fellows, as your salary is grant-funded by CRUK paid sick leave entitlements can be charged to the award in accordance with the Host Institution's usual policy. 

Beyond CRUK covering paid sick leave entitlements, we’re liaising across the sector to review the situation for students. 

I’m a Clinical Research Training Fellow redeployed to the NHS to work on frontline delivery, how will my salary be covered?
Our expectation is that universities will continue to pay clinical staff salaries for the time being and recharge any time spent working in the clinic back to the NHS. Your institution should keep a record of the duration of the redeployment (start/end dates) and any salary contributions recoverable from the NHS. You can also request a no cost extension. Please discuss with your host institution how they intend to manage the salary reimbursement. 

How can I request a no cost extension as a student?
If you’re based at a training centre, you should discuss a no-cost extension with your Centre who we expect to manage and record any no cost extension requests. If your studentship is attached to a parent programme, programme foundation award or fellowship, the grantholder should request a no-cost extension in writing to CRUK.

What other flexibility will CRUK offer on student training accounts?
We are offering further flexibility to students and training centres in terms of recruitment and start/end dates.

We will update this page as required.

Page updated 4 May 2020