Code of practice


Council members’ responsibilities

Strategy and planning

The Council is responsible for strategy, planning and performance management within AHRC. Specific requirements for these activities are articulated in AHRC’s management statement. In undertaking these activities the Council considers government requirements. One of its main tasks is overseeing the production of the strategic and delivery plans, and the key strategic objectives and targets therein.

Role of the AHRC Chair

The Executive Chair shares responsibility for representing AHRC with the Senior Independent Member. Their roles are set out more fully in the management statement. Together the Executive Chair and the Senior Independent Member share particular responsibility for providing effective strategic leadership on matters such as:

  • creating AHRC’s strategy for discharging its charter and mission effective execution, through the Executive Chair, of the decisions of the Council’s governing body;
  • encouraging high standards of propriety, and ensuring that the Council in reaching decisions, taking proper account of guidance and advice provided by the Executive, by Council’s committees, and by government
  • promoting efficient and effective use of staff and other resources throughout the organisation; and chairing the appointments panel for new council members
  • ensuring the Council meets regularly (March, June, September, and December) and that minutes record the views expressed at the meeting and the decisions taken
  • ensuring that new council members are aware of the expectations of the code of conduct and receive appropriate induction.

Council members’ corporate responsibilities

The Council is accountable to Parliament and ultimately the public through its sponsor department, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). Members of the Council have corporate responsibility for ensuring that the Council fulfils the objects of its charter, takes account of science budget objectives, takes account of its stakeholders, and promotes the efficient and effective use of staff and the Council’s other publicly funded resources.

The Council’s role is set out fully in the management statement. Individual council members’ responsibilities include:

  • establishing the overall strategic and policy direction of AHRC within the policy and resource framework agreed with DSIT
  • establishing the mission and strategic plan and approving the council delivery plan  which together cover the strategy, disposition of resources and key performance indicators and targets in respect of the Council’s programmes of support for research, training, knowledge transfer and public engagement
  • considering new opportunities and developments for the arts and humanities
  • ensuring that, in reaching decisions, the Council has taken into account any guidance issued by DSIT and the Treasury, and is acting in accordance with its delegated authority
  • monitoring performance and ensuring that high standards of corporate governance are observed at all times
  • ensuring that the Council operates in accordance with standards of responsiveness and openness
  • ensuring that AHRC’s human resources policies are implemented and developed so that staff are managed effectively and that all staff are familiar with AHRC’s aims and objectives
  • monitoring the performance of the Chief Executive and senior members of staff.

While the Council is responsible for discharging these duties, it may delegate tasks to pursue these duties to the Advisory Board or ad hoc task groups. Decisions taken under delegated authority should be recorded in written minutes available to the Council as a whole.

Political activity

AHRC representatives should not occupy paid party political posts or hold particularly sensitive or high profile roles in a political party. Subject to that, representatives are free to engage in political activities, provided they are conscious of their general public responsibilities and exercise proper discretion, particularly with regard to AHRC’s work. AHRC representatives should not make any political speeches or engage in other public political activities on matters relating to AHRC business without first consulting the Chief Executive, who will consult the Chair of Council and, if necessary, DSIT.

Last updated: 14 February 2023

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