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Arts Humanities and Social Sciences Research

The School of Arts and Humanities and the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Studying at Cambridge

 

Budget Management

Managing an EC Project Budget

When an EC grant has been awarded, the PI will need to provide the Research Operations Office with a final version of the budget, broken down into expenditure headings, so the project can be activated on CUFS. Once set up, the entire sterling budget is available to the PI to utilise as best befits the project. It is recommended that regular monitoring of EC project budgets takes place, to ensure expenditure is in line with expectations, and to check eligible costs are being charged correctly.

Set up

Depending on the type of grant awarded, the budget will be set up slightly differently on CUFS to ensure monitoring and reporting is as straightforward as possible. For EC projects split into Work Packages, each Work Package will form a numbered Task on CUFS with its own budget and expenditure headings. In contrast, ERC grant reporting is not split by Work Package, so usually budget will be allocated only to Task 1. MSCA fellowships are slightly different again, with Living, Mobility and Family allowances allocated to Task 1 on CUFS, Research Training and Networking budgeted on Task 2, and Management costs allocated to Task 3. For details of budget rates for MSCA fellowships, please see here.

EC award budgets are likely to contain several different expenditure headings, some of which may be combined for the CUFS budget, as the finance system has a more limited choice of expenditure types, as per details below.

 

CUFS expenditure heading:

EC heading(s) mapped to:

Staff Costs

All Personnel costs: PI, Post Docs, Students and Other Personnel

For MSCAs, this CUFS heading covers Living, Mobility and Family allowances

Equipment

Equipment – please see here for more information on charging equipment on EC grants

Travel and Subsistence

This heading covers all Travel and associated expenses for the project team, and any Visiting Experts Travel costs

Other

This heading covers all other Direct Costs of the project, including Consumables, Conference and Workshop costs, Publication costs (including fees for Open Access) and Temporary Employment Service (TES) staff costs.

Under H2020, this heading also contains Audit fees

Subcontracting

Any specific task identified and approved as Subcontracting within the Description of Work

Overheads

Indirect costs – 25% on all H2020 EC grants, variable rates on FP7 grants

Exchange rates

EC grants are costed and awarded in Euro, but all project budgets are set up in CUFS in Sterling. Though exchange rate fluctuations occur, it is University policy to set the project budget in Sterling at a fixed Lifetime Budget Rate, so the PI is assured of their actual budget throughout the course of the project. The Department is protected from potential shortfalls in funding as any exchange rate losses are absorbed by the University Chest. The exchange rate prevalent at the point the Grant Preparation Forms are received by the ROO will determine the Lifetime Budget Rate.

Monitoring and reporting

Costs are charged to the grant based on actual expenditure incurred, and must be verifiable via invoices, expense claims and timesheets. Indirect costs are charged to the grant at the end of each month as 25% of actual, eligible expenditure i.e. charged on all costs except Subcontracting.

Budget virement between headings is permitted where necessary, without need for a formal amendment, so long as activity and outputs are being delivered as per the Description of Work. This flexibility allows the PI to monitor and amend budget allocated to each cost heading to best deliver the project activity. This is reflected on CUFS with Advisory budget controls, allowing expenditure within a cost heading to exceed the budget allocated, provided the total project budget is not fully spent. The exceptions to this virement rule are any costs being moved to or from Subcontracting (which requires an amendment), and MSCA fellowships where costs per heading are paid at flat rates.

When reporting to the EC, the PI will need to review and justify any over or underspends within each expenditure heading, by comparing actual expenditure to the estimates provided in the Description of Work. In addition to virement of funds between expenditure headings, the PI can also choose to delay or bring forward expenditure between different reporting periods – and will again be required to explain these changes when reporting.

 

To discuss a specific budget or queries, or for assistance in monitoring EC project budgets within the Humanities and Social Sciences, please contact the SRT.