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Research Operations Office


Published on 11 October 2013

Additional Item: Update on the Removal of VAT Exemption for Research

Update on the Removal of VAT Exemption for Research

We have previously issued advice about the withdrawal of the VAT exemption for research from 1 August 2013. Here, we provide an update on the latest position.

Overall position

As previously advised, it is worth remembering that there are only a very limited number of circumstances in which the University relied on the exemption. In most cases, other than commercially funded research, research is funded by way of a grant which is outside the scope of VAT rather than exempt. The only occasions on which exemption could potentially have been applied would be where the research is (1) commissioned from a government department or health authority and does not meet the conditions to be a grant and (2) where there is a sub-contract with another university which is not simply a transfer of grant.

Transitional arrangements for existing contracts.

HMRC have now confirmed that any contracts already in existence at the time of change (1 August 2013) will continue to benefit from the relief for the life of the contract provided that they are not subject to substantial changes. This means that there should be no issues to the current VAT treatment for contracts in place at 1 August 2013.

New contracts

A detailed review of existing research grants/contracts engaged in by the University showed that in most cases of government and charitable funded research, the correct treatment (even where there is a subcontract in place) is as a grant funded activity both where the University receives funding and where it passes it on. In only a very small number of cases there is a possibility of different interpretation. More detailed guidance will be issued on this in the next few weeks.

Please direct any queries to the University’s tax team, via Carolyn Paskins on 01223 (3)32230 or

Please can you ensure that all Research Council grant holders in your Department are aware of the following:

Gateway to Research (GtR) is an RCUK initiative which centralises information on funded research projects and outcomes into a single website. GtR is currently in a Beta stage until the official launch on the 4th December at the House of Commons, and is accessible here:

GtR contains information on projects which became active after April 2006, and already includes some outcome information submitted in ROS and ResearchFish. The dataset is live and is periodically updated; the last update was 22 July 2013.

RCUK is planning another data refresh during mid-end October 2013.  This will include some additional data fields, not previously published, relating to the following outcome types in ROS:

•         Impact Summary

•         Policy Influence

•         Further Funding

•         Other Research Outputs

•         Collaborations

•         Dissemination

•         Intellectual Property

•         Exploitation Mechanism

Please note that only information formally submitted to the Research Councils will be published.  PIs are responsible for completing their submissions to ROS. Please encourage all PIs in your Department to check the quality of their data, ensuring it is accurate and up to date. They should make any necessary amendments, via ROS, in time for the official release of GtR on 4th December 2013. PIs will need to have made their amendments in ROS by Friday 25th October in order for the changes to appear in the December release of GtR. Amendments submitted in ROS after this date will be published at the beginning of 2014.

For queries relating to the functionality in GtR, including data not being displayed correctly in the GtR portal, please contact

For enquiries relating to updating data via ROS, please contact the ROS helpdesk directly on


European Commission Guidance on Travel Costs

Proof is required of both the purchase of travel and its use. Best practice would be to include a log of travel requests and authorisation (to satisfy the requirement that the travel has been authorised as necessary for the requirements of the grant) and to retain evidence of the travel having taken place – boarding passes, attendance lists at conferences, report on the travel undertaken as part of institutional normal practice etc.

The costs incurred by invited speakers to project workshops can be claimed on a grant but not as “travel”. These are “other” costs


Research Council Grants - Starting Procedures

From the 1st October 2013, all Research Councils (AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC and STFC) are aligning their terms and conditions on starting procedures. Previously some Research Councils had allowed a delay of up to 6 months from the start date in the award letter. This has now changed so that a delay of only 3 months will be permitted.

Further details can be found here

Horizon 2020 Presentations - Thursday 14 November 2013

Katie Price, European Advisor for the UK Research Office (UKRO) Brussels will be visiting Cambridge and giving two presentations on Thursday 14 November 2013. She will be talking about Horizon 2020 the EUs new programme for investment in research and innovation. The morning session will focus on administrative matters and the afternoon will give details about the Work Programmes and content of the calls.

 9:30am – 11:30am Horizon 2020: Structure and administration of the new framework programme

 2:00pm – 4:30pm Horizon 2020: Work Programmes and research funding opportunities

The presentations will be of interest to anyone who is already involved in FP7 and intends to apply for Horizon 2020 funding, as well as those that are new to EU funding.

To register, please e-mail indicating which session you will be attending. Venue details to be confirmed. If you have any other queries, please contact


Horizon 2020 – ‘Health’ Information Event - Tuesday 26 November 2013

Dr Octavio Pernas, FP7 UK National Contact Point for Health will be visiting Cambridge on Thursday 26 November 2013. He will be talking about the “Health, demographic change and wellbeing” challenge in Horizon 2020 – the EUs new programme for investment in research and innovation. The session will cover the Work Programmes and content of the calls as well as a brief overview of administrative matters. The presentation will be of interest to anyone who is already involved in FP7 and intends to apply for Horizon 2020 funding, as well as those that are new to EU funding

To book your place, please e-mail If you have any other queries, please contact

11:30am – Registration and coffee

12:00pm – 2:00pm (approx) – Horizon 2020 and the Health Challenge

2:00pm (approx) Light lunch

2.00pm - 4.00pm One-to-One Sessions with Dr Octavio Pernas (pre-booking required - see below)

Venue: Alice Fisher Lecture Theatre, Addenbrooke’s Site

There will also be an opportunity to have a one-to-one 15 minute session (individual or small group) with Dr Octavio Pernas to discuss specific issues/projects. Times will be allocated on a first come, first served basis so please indicate your request when registering. 

Full Economic Costing Briefing Sessions – 29 October 2013

As part of the Research Operations Office Training Strategy (ROOTS) and co-presented by Finance Office, the next briefing sessions on Full Economic Costing and the Income Allocation Policy will take place as follows:

Tuesday 29 Oct, 9.30am – 11am at Clinical School

The briefings are relevant to all staff involved in research grants, particularly those new to the University and/or research grants and those seeking to confirm or refresh their understanding of University policy and its impact on research grants. Content includes:

  • What the PI should be aware of at application stage
  • What information might the Head of Department need to know before approving the application
  • What questions the Departmental Administrator may ask before submitting the application
  • How the Income Allocation Policy apportions overhead between the Department and the University (Chest)

To register please e-mail including your full name, department, role and a contact number and the session you wish to attend.

Please forward these messages on to colleagues who may be interested in attending.