To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, pursuant to the Answer of 21 July 2020 to Question 75291 on Charities: Research, what recent assessment the Government has made of the (a) effectiveness of the contributions of the Charity Research Support Fund and (b) effect of the covid-19 outbreak on its level of funding.
Charity research funding is a vital component of the research funding landscape for universities, providing some 12% of total research income in 2018-19, and the charity research support element is a vital component in ensuring that universities are able to accept that funding. The charity research support element recognises that charities sponsor high-value research in universities, bringing benefits to scientific discovery and society, but that charities do not always meet the full costs of that research. According to data collected by the Office for Students using the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology research charities funded 59% of the full economic cost of the research they supported in UK universities. The charity research support element of block grant funding (£204 million in England, with equivalent sums in the rest of the UK) provides a further contribution of around 10% of the full economic cost.
A significant proportion of charity funding supports health research. The UK Health Research Analysis concludes that charities provided £1.11 billion in funding for health research in 2018, 44% of the total. The impact and benefits of the medical research funded by charities and supported by UKRI’s charity research support are set out in the 2019 Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) report Making a Difference, while the 2018 Wellcome Trust report Empowering UK Universities uses cases studies to show the importance of QR funding, which includes charity research support.
Charities are anticipating a sizeable reduction in their income as a result of the pandemic, which will impact significantly on charity-funded research. The AMRC reports that its members project an average 41% decrease in their medical research spend over the next year, while 40 per cent of charities responding to its survey of members stated that half their clinical trials might be unable to restart. In April Cancer Research UK, one of the largest funders of charity research, announced a cut in research funding and stated that that no new research projects will be funded for at least the first six months of this financial year.
The size of the charity research support element does not depend upon the level of charity funding. Therefore, as the level of charity research funding falls, the charity research support element of block grant funding will cover a greater proportion of the full economic cost of charity-funded research at universities.