Directly incurred costs - BBSRC

Directly incurred costs are expenditure that is to be directly incurred for a project and only that project and is supported by an auditable record.

Audit requirements for directly incurred costs

UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) expects directly incurred staff to use timesheets so that their actual time is recorded against a project to form the basis of the costs charged. Where a person is contracted to work 100% of their time on a single project (whether they are working full-time or part-time), timesheets are not necessary as their costs can only be charged to that activity. In all other cases, timesheets or project time records are required. This includes those who may be contracted to work on two or more projects, since it is essential when charging to have a means of recording and verifying the actual time applied to each activity. UKRI’s expectations are that time recording will be undertaken regularly and continuously and that records will be verified at least monthly.

Directly incurred costs fit into four categories.

Staff

The payroll costs of all staff, full or part-time, who work on the project, and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail may be included. The need for such staff should be justified in the justification of resources attachment.

Where an application includes provision for named research, technical and support staff, BBSRC will normally expect to award funds at 80% of the level requested. Research assistants, whether named or unnamed, should be requested at a salary level commensurate with the skills, responsibilities, expertise and experience necessary to carry out the proposed research activity. They should also only be employed by an eligible institution named in the application and be based at that institution.

It will be for those submitting the proposal to determine the extent to which market conditions make it difficult to recruit staff of appropriate quality in areas of high market demand and therefore require an uplift from normal salary levels. Provided the uplift has been fully justified within the justification of resources attachment, BBSRC will make the award at that level. BBSRC reserves the right to provide support at a different level if it is considered appropriate.

Data-driven research and the development of associated methods, tools and resources are an integral part of contemporary bioscience. As such, staff support can be requested in the following areas:

  • research data management: Support may be requested for any costs related to research data management which will be incurred during the project and not be covered by directly allocated or indirect costs. These costs must be fully justified.
  • professional support: Proposals should be fully scoped and are expected to include the necessary full or partial FTE roles associated with professional support for data-intensive bioscience, such as for data analysis and management. This can include support through the use of shared facilities and technical professionals such as research software engineers where appropriate.
  • skills: Applicants should ensure professional support roles for data-intensive bioscience are made at appropriate salary points in recognition of the competitive market for staff with strong quantitative expertise. Proposals can also support upskilling costs. The rationale for these costs must be clearly articulated in the justification of resources.

General training such as project management would not be an eligible cost to charge as directly incurred, as this is not considered to be a cost arising as a direct result of the grant activity. However these costs can be covered using indirect funds. UKRI will permit costs for specific training requirements that arise directly from the needs of the grant, such as specialist training.

Salary increments over the period of the project should be taken into account but not anticipated future pay awards. Where it is expected that named research staff will be promoted during the lifetime of the grant, provision may be made for this in the grant proposal. If a grant does not include provision for such costs, funds may be transferred from other directly incurred and exceptions headings.

The research organisation is responsible, as the employer, for the contracts of employment of the staff concerned and, consequently, for any redundancy or other compensatory arrangements that may be required. Work permits, if required, are a matter for direct negotiation between the research organisation and the relevant government departments. BBSRC has no restrictions or requirements on residency, nationality or citizenship in relation to research support staff funded from a grant.

Travel and subsistence

Travel costs for journeys that are an essential part of the investigation and are directly related to the research project can be claimed as a direct cost on the research grant. All journeys must be identified individually and be fully justified in the application. Travel and subsistence will be in accordance with UKRI terms and conditions and have due regard to value for money, environmental impact and sustainability, and the health and wellbeing of the traveller (particularly those with disabilities).

Costs for attendance at conferences may be included where such attendance will be of direct benefit to the research. BBSRC will expect research assistants employed on the grant to have first call on conference attendance. Conferences should, as far as possible, be individually identified in the proposal and attendance justified.

Equipment

Applicants should read the equipment guidance information.

Equipment below £10,000

Individual items of equipment below £10,000 are to be included in proposals for individual research projects at 80% FEC. They should be included in Other Directly Incurred costs. If VAT or Import Duty do not apply, a value of zero should be entered in these fields.

Equipment between £10,000 and £138,000 (including VAT)

For single capital items of equipment between £10,000 and £138,000 (including VAT) additional justification of the requirement for these items, and details of the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment, must be provided in the justification of resources as detailed in the UKRI guidance.

Applicants should read carefully the section on how to apply in Je-S. Proposals must include a letter of support from the appropriate institution authority detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment. BBSRC will contribute no more than 50% of the final purchase price of any item between £10,000 and £138,000 (including VAT) and will expect the research organisation to contribute the remainder. This contribution must not be conditional, for example on the success of other applications for support, and must not be from other BBSRC grants. The peer review committee or panel will be asked to consider the proposed contribution in relation to the value for money of the proposal and this may influence the final position of the proposal in the rank ordered list. The final decision on the percentage contribution will be made by BBSRC taking into account the available capital budget.

For joint proposals, we expect the applicants and their research organisations to agree amongst themselves the levels of contribution from the different organisations, and the ownership and hosting arrangements for the equipment. Information should be provided in the justification of resources.

Equipment above £138,000 (including VAT)

Applications for research projects seeking single capital items of equipment above £138,000 (including VAT) must include the required two page business case, separately for each item. As described above, the expectation is that the equipment will underpin a range of research including both existing and potential future research projects. Quotations are mandatory for equipment items above a threshold of £138,000 (including VAT and Import Duty). Where the actual cost of the equipment item exceeds this value three quotations must be provided. Please consult the equipment guidance document for further information.

Responsive mode grant applications recommended for funding by the peer review committee will have their case for any item of equipment over £138,000 (including VAT), and resources associated with its operation considered at the meeting of committee chairs.

Proposals must include a letter of support from the appropriate institution authority detailing the proposed contribution to the cost of the equipment. Single capital items of equipment over £138,000 (including VAT) will normally be funded at 50% of total cost and the institution will be expected to provide the remaining 50%. This contribution must not be conditional, for example on the success of other applications for support, and must not be from other BBSRC grants. BBSRC may agree a contribution of up to 100% where the application and business case demonstrates that the equipment will enhance national capability in meeting a strategically important need by the BBSRC research community, and the case shows a clear ongoing commitment to maintain and operate it for this purpose. Final funding decisions will need to take into account the capital allocation available to the BBSRC, and may require negotiation with the institution.

Proposals will be considered according to the following criteria, taking into account the advice of the peer review committee:

  • the quality, breadth and strategic relevance to BBSRC of the science that will be enabled by the equipment and the plans to maximise access to the equipment. This may include consideration of the geographical location of the equipment in relation to the likely user community, and in relation to similar instrumentation that might be available elsewhere.
  • the proposals for the management and resourcing of access to the facility, including training where necessary
  • value for money – including the efficiency and affordability of running and access costs, the extent of non-BBSRC contributions, and discounts on capital purchase costs.

BBSRC may seek further information in relation to any of the above assessment criteria, or any other aspect of the case, before reaching a decision.

The location and support for access to these larger items of equipment is a strategic decision taken with a view to maximising the benefit to national capability. Consequently, BBSRC may decide, for example, that equipment may be co-located with existing provision elsewhere or located somewhere it considers more suitable. It may also decide to seek other proposals to host the items concerned before taking a decision.

Instrument development

Equipment over £10,000 to be used for instrument development is not affected by the above rules for equipment funding. More detail on what constitutes instrument development can be found in the UKRI guidance.

This exception only applies to applications for equipment to be used in the development of new instruments. It does not cover equipment associated with the adaption of existing hardware or the development of software.

Items of equipment for instrument development may be funded at 100% FEC, although BBSRC reserves the right to request institutional contributions in exceptional circumstances.

Applicants should note that the guidance applies to individual pieces of equipment. Other equipment requested on the proposal but not related to the instrument development will be subject to the standard rules for equipment funding.

Other costs

Costs sought should be specified as far as possible in the proposal and justified in terms of the requirement for the research proposed. This may include:

  • consumables
  • specialist publications (not expected in institutional libraries)
  • field work and fees
  • computing (recurrent cost of computing dedicated to the project only, for example stationery supplies and software licences, not costs associated with use of central computing facilities)
  • publication costs (within the period of the grant) associated with research outputs, other than journal articles and conference papers, such as books, monographs, critical editions, catalogues etc. Full justification for such costs must be provided. However, publication costs including open access charges, page charges and reprints associated with peer reviewed journal articles and conference papers must not be included in the application
  • consultancy fees
  • recruitment and advertising costs for staff directly employed on the grant
  • equipment related items, such as relocation, maintenance (external contracts and agreements). For equipment maintenance costs, applicants should include a cost breakdown and the costs claimed on the research grant must be on the basis of use for the project
  • rental and access charges for equipment (specify equipment or service being used, basis of charging and required hours of usage)
  • equipment, complete items costing less than £10,000 (including VAT) only
  • direct services and facilities charged on a usage basis where administrative systems efficiently and robustly support this to provide an audit trail. This includes requests for costs for the use of Earlham Institute (formerly TGAC) facility sequencing (previously Earlham Institute facilities were requested as directly allocated costs) and the UK 850MHz Solid State NMR Facility at the University of Warwick.

Please note the justification of resources should make clear if elements of costs for a complete service, for example eg glasshouse use are split between different categories of costs, for example technicians and consumables, and identify their location within the proposal. This is required to enable comparisons of different approaches using the same overall resource.

Rental and access charges for equipment

BBSRC will not meet rental access charges on equipment that has been funded by BBSRC or any of the other research councils. BBSRC grant holders should not be charged any element of the capital costs of research council funded equipment.

Requests for rental access charges must be accompanied by confirmation that the equipment was not funded by BBSRC or another research council. How charges have been arrived at must be clearly shown.

Patent costs, and other IPR costs such as those relating to licensing agreements and the establishment of spin out companies, are not eligible costs on research grants.

Last updated: 5 October 2022

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