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New guidance for easier payment of public research contributors

Last updated on 27 Jun 2022

New guidance has been launched today (27 June) to help organisations, researchers and involvement staff pay members of the public helping shape life-changing health and social care research across the UK and Ireland.

A digital image showing a diverse group of people.

Slow payment a barrier

Slow and complicated payment procedures for public contributors, patients and members of the public who contribute to research, have been identified as a key barrier to inclusive and accessible public involvement, recognised by all five nations across the UK and Ireland.

Developed by Health and Care Research Wales, the National Institute for Health and Care Research, and the Health Research Authority, this guide aims to support organisations to easily pay contributors by:

● describing principles of payment for public contributors and key challenges currently faced in the sector such as inflexible payment systems, inconsistencies within departments and contradictory information

● provide direction to those managing and administering payment, and support them to understand employment status and tax regulations

● signpost to information and HMRC guidance in order to inform decisions on payments based on the involvement activities such as attending events, seminars, remote document review etc.

Meaningful public involvement

This project helps support the aims of the UK Standards for Public Involvement as well as the UK Vision to unlock the full potential of clinical research delivery, tackle health inequalities, bolster economic recovery and to improve the lives of people across the UK and Ireland.

The guidance is released as ‘consultation in use’ for a period of six months to gather feedback from organisations across the UK and Ireland.

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‘We are committed to ensuring as diverse a range of people as possible can help inform, shape and improve health and social care research. This can only be achieved by recognising and rewarding the contribution the patients and members of the public who work with research teams make by paying them in a way that is easy and does not put them off.

‘A wide group of organisations and members of the public have worked together to develop this guidance to help organisations and researchers feel more confident when they make payments for involvement. We hope the new guidance will make it easier for research teams to carry out meaningful public involvement with patients and members of the public in their health and social care research.’

Jim Elliott, Public Involvement Lead at the Health Research Authority
Alex Newberry

'This project is a result of important conversations with people on the ground. Complex policies and inconsistent approaches across organisations have caused a lot of frustration and we want to tackle this barrier nationally to allow as many people as possible to help shape life-changing research.

'This commitment to tackling administration barriers has been a vital aspect of Health and Care Research Wales’ Discover Your Role vision. We hope by working together we can provide researchers, public contributors, public involvement leads as well as finance and HR professionals with the confidence and support needed to enable meaningful public involvement.'

Alex Newberry, Head of Public Involvement, Research and Development Division, Welsh Government


Created in line with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), this document has also been reviewed by human resources and finance professionals, public involvement leads, policy leads and members of the public with experience in the issue.

Silvia Bortoli, Senior Public Involvement Manager at the National Institute for Health and Care Research, said: 'As research funders, we are often asked what we can do to tackle deep-rooted organisational barriers that prevent timely and suitable payment to be made to public contributors for their involvement in research. The aim of this work is to provide direction to those managing and administering payment arrangements to navigate challenging systems. This work is particularly important because appropriate and efficient payment of public contributors can help include people from diverse backgrounds and ensure involvement in research is inclusive.'

Your feedback matters

While this guidance has been developed in consultation with patients, members of the public, researchers, and those involved in finance and administering payments for involvement, it's recognised further development may be required. Therefore, it is being released as a ‘consultation in use’, where organisations can use this guidance to support payment for public contributors and provide feedback on what impact it has, and any further information or changes that may be needed.

Please share feedback about this guidance document via email ced@nihr.ac.uk stating your name, role and organisation and answering the below questions:

● How are you using this guidance document?

● How is this guidance document changing or improving practice?

● Is there incorrect or missing information?

● Any further suggestions for how this guidance document is used or could be improved?

● Does your organisation want to endorse or support this guidance document?

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