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Funding Assurance Programme

The Funding Assurance Programme provides assurance to the UKRI Accounting Officer that public funds destined for research are properly safeguarded and used for the purposes intended by Parliament.

This is achieved by examining compliance with the terms and conditions which accompany research funding across four “pillars” of assurance:

  • Research Grants and Fellowships
  • Doctoral Training funding
  • Transparent Approach to Costing
  • Non-Financial terms and conditions

Enhanced scrutiny is afforded to the research intensive research organisations who should expect assurance activity approximately every three years.

The memoranda of understanding between the former bodies RCUK and HEFCE agreed a protocol for the exchange of institutional risk information. This is an efficient way of promoting institutional accountability and easing the regulatory burden on HEIs. 

The Funding Assurance has set the 2017-18 dispensation rates for use by eligible higher education institutions and independent research organisations.

    Independent Research Organisations:

    UKRI Funding Assurance is responsible for validating Full Economic Costing (FEC) rates for IROs who may either elect to use dispensation rates or their own, if validated by UKRI.

    For further information please see the Assurance Programme contacts in the contacts area.


    With effect from 2013-14 (i.e. reporting on academic year 2012-13), the threshold at which UK universities and colleges are eligible for dispensation from the need to comply with the full Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) requirements was increased to £3 million per annum of publicly-funded research income, calculated as a five-year rolling average. This reduced the administrative burden of TRAC for research organisations that have low levels of publicly-funded research.

    All Research Organisations are required to submit annual TRAC and TRAC(T) returns for accountability purposes, but those eligible for claiming dispensation are not required to comply with the following requirements:

    • Obtain time allocation data from academics (heads of department could, for example, provide this information)
    • Use more than four to six cost drivers to allocate indirect costs
    • Identify space use across the whole institutions
    • Calculate laboratory technicians and research facility charge-out rates, and apply these separately from estates rates
    • Calculate indirect costs rates and estates rates
    • Robustly calculate staff FTEs

    Eligible Research Organisations wishing to comply with full TRAC requirements may still do so.

    Since 2011 the dispensation rates have been set at the sector lower quartiles, which for 2019-20 are:

    Indexed rate expressed as £ per staff FTE

    Based on 2017-18 data indexed for two years

    TRAC lower quartile rates for the sector

    Indirect cost rate


    Laboratory estates rate


    Non-laboratory estates rate