European Commission Funding

Congratulations on being awarded a European Commission (EC) funded grant.

EC grants are managed in a similar way to other research grants and so as PI you should familiarise yourself with our generic online guidance for managing your grant. However, EC projects, such as FP7 and H2020, often have additional reporting requirements or specific terms and conditions and so additional guidance is available below.

  • Grant agreement

    As PI it is your responsibility to have read and understand funder requirements as set out in the EC grant agreement. This is a long and complicated document and so Research Services will cover the main aspects of this during development of your application and at the kick-off meeting with the post-award team. However, you should set yourself time to read this properly and see how it will affect your grant management.

  • EC portal

    You should have used the EC Participant Portal during your application. You will be required to use this during your grant for the following tasks:

    • Uploading documentation before the grant starts if required
    • Adding details of researcher recruitment for Marie Curie grants
    • Submit amendments to your grant agreement
    • Adding secondments
    • Manage your scientific and financial reports
    • View or manages roles and access rights in your project consortia

    Research Services have Financial Signatory access; they will sign and submit financial reports.

  • Lancaster processes

    You will be supported during your grant by either a Project Administrator (if costed onto the grant) and/or by the Research Services post-award team. Standard procedures should be used to maintain consistency across the university. These include:

    Box - You’ll be added to a shared Box folder between Research Services and your team. Please use this for sharing all documentation and for storing the evidence needed for claims and audit. Please also make sure that you are aware of GDPR rules around Personal Data and encrypt documents accordingly. Further details can be found here . If you have any questions please contact the Post Award Team

    Project Spreadsheet - Research Services will create a project spreadsheet in Excel for you and save this into Box. Please use this to record the categorisation of expenditure when requested to do so by the post-award team or your Project Administrator.

Financial management

As PI you have overall responsibility for the financial management for your grant. You will be supported by a Project Administrator (if one was costed on your grant) and/or by Research Services post-award team. Please see below for more information about various aspects of financial management.

  • Cost statements

    Post-award is responsible for submitting cost statements by the due date in accordance with the funder’s terms and conditions. This is done in liaison with the PI to ensure eligibility of expenditure and full use of the available funds. A review of time-sheeted payroll expenditure against budget will be completed to ensure that this is being claimed proportionally across the duration of the grant.

    If the project has an administrator, it is their responsibility to assemble claims to funders; these must sent to post-award for checking before submission (post-award is always the Financial Signatory on the EC Portal). Project Administrators should always use the templates provided by Research Services and send for checking with the relevant documentation completed in plenty of time.

    Some EC grants provide an element of pre-financing, once this funding has been claimed via an approved cost statement, future funding will be released on approval of a later cost statement.

    If applicable, a use of resources must be saved before submitting the claim. This shows how the trips have been claimed, and how your other direct costs have been grouped. This breakdown will be needed at audit and should match your working documents. This is not needed for Marie Curie grants.

  • Partner payments

    It is the responsibility of the Project Administrator to release funding to partners. If no administrator is in post, this will be done by the post-award team, with support from the PI.

    Payments to partners must be made “without unjustified delay” (annotated grant agreement section 21.5), at key points throughout the project on receipt at Lancaster of:

    1. Pre-financing payment
    2. Interim payments made after a claim
    3. Final payment following the end of the project

     

    Guidance for Project Administrators

    Before a payment can be made, the following must be complete:

    1. All bank details, from all partners, must be received on headed paper, signed by the relevant person and stamped by the bank

    (Please keep hard copies in your project files, and upload scanned copies to box)

    1. All partners must be set up a customer as per Accounts Payable rules (please liaise with Accounts Payable for further guidance if needed)

    To make a payment:

    1. Fill in an international (Non UK) Payment Form available from Finance
    2. Get the form signed by HOD (or authorised officer)
    3. Send to Accounts Payable
      (Please keep hard copies in your project files, and upload scanned copies to box)

    Please note:

    1. Payments to partners must be made in the same exchange rate that we received the payment in (please make this clear to Accounts Payable, as this is not standard practice)
    2. Initial payments must be made in line with the collaboration agreement
    3. Interim and final payments should be made in line with the payment notification letter, and should be reduced by any partner’s disallowed costs

     

  • Marie Curie Early Stage Researchers

    Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) on Marie Curie grants are allocated a total budget in Euros for their work on the project but paid in Sterling using a conservative exchange rate. Post-award or the Project Administrator, if applicable, will review the exchange rate used to convert the budget into Sterling to prevent over payments. Payments will be reviewed after each claim, when the actual exchange rate for the period is known, and a balancing payment will be made to ensure that ESRs receive all of the Euros they are entitled to.

  • Exchange rate gain/loss

    The university protects research projects, and therefore departments, against exchange rate losses by maintaining a central exchange rate loss/gain account. As such if your project suffers from unfavourable exchange rates you do not need to accommodate this within your grant budget. The university does this by using exchange rate gains to cover the losses. Therefore, if your project income creates a surplus by a favourable exchange rate you will not be able to use this for project expenditure. Post-Award will calculate exchange rate losses/gains related to your project and make the appropriate financial journals on Agresso.

Evidence

To comply with EC regulations Lancaster University must provide the relevant evidence against all research project expenditure and activities when asked at audit. Failure to provide evidence can put the funding for individual items of expenditure or whole projects at risk. In these cases, the department will be responsible for funding any ineligible expenditure.

Please review this list of documents that have been required at EC audit and read the below guidance.

  • Financial evidence

    Policies - Staff and students must adhere to Lancaster University financial policies regarding travel, procurement and expenses etc. Failure to comply with university policies can render expenditure ineligible and put the entire grant funding at risk.

    Receipts - PIs and researchers must send all receipts that evidence staff expenses and university credit card expenditure to finance so that these can be kept. Copies of many different types of expenditure are held electronically on Agresso, where this is not possible Research Services has an archive containing paper copies. There is no need to maintain a project copy of receipts.

    Procurement - It is important that the project team retains evidence that the procurement policy has been followed, i.e. copies of quotes and tenders must be retained and saved in Box.

    Partner bank details – If applicable, you need to keep records of signed and dated partner bank details on headed paper. Copies of signed and dates payments forms sent to Accounts Payable and saved in Box, copies of future payments should also be saved in Box.

  • Staff employment evidence

    Recruitment process – You should retain the following information:

    • Copies of all job adverts placed (clearly stating that the project is funded by H2020 with logo if possible)
    • Job descriptions and person specifications
    • Please note you are required to post an advert on the EURAXESS website as part of your recruitment, you should keep a copy of this

    Successful candidates – On appointment of project staff you must keep records of their CVs and degree certificates. There may be other evidence required which is specific to your grant; please refer to your call details, proposal and the grant agreement to ensure you are keeping adequate records.

    Staff contracts – Copies of staff contracts are kept within HR; however, it is good practice to also keep a copy in your Box folder.

    Marie Curie early stage researchers - On appointment of ESRs you must keep records which includes the below list. There may be other evidence required which is specific to your grant; please refer to your call details, proposal and the grant agreement.

    • All staff: CVs and degree certificates
    • For family allowance (if applicable): Marriage certificates and birth certificates for any children.
    • For mobility allowance(if applicable):
      • Proof that they have not spent more than 3 months in the UK in the past 3 years
      • Visas
      • Travel tickets to show when they entered the country
      • Rental agreements for previous addresses outside the country
      • Evidence that they have less than 4 years research (where applicable), this can include CV, LinkedIn or other online profiles, or published papers.
  • Other evidence required

    Grant agreement – You should keep a copy of a signed and dated (wet ink or digitally sealed) grant agreement.

    Secondments - Secondments should be noted on staff monthly work logs, copies of secondment certificates should be kept and must match the details entered on the EC portal.

    Equipment - Stickers must be added to all grant funded equipment (computers and research equipment) which state that they have been purchased using H2020 funds. It is important that photographs are taken of these stickers on the equipment and stored in Box.

Evidencing staff costs

All staff costs must be evidenced by a time recording system that shows the hours an individual worked on each project.

This is done through completion of timesheets, declarations or work logs – templates are provided by Research Services.

It is the responsibility of the PI to ensure that time is recorded monthly, in the correct manner, by all staff working on the project. The completed templates must be appropriately signed and counter-signed and originals stored in a secure manner. Copies should be uploaded into Box on a regular basis so that Research Services also have access to them.

For advice on completion of timesheets, templates, or for a box file to be set-up for your project please contact rso_postaward@lancaster.ac.uk.

  • H2020

    The EC’s requirements for time recording in H2020 are laid out in the H2020 Annotated Model Grant Agreement (link is external) (see p. 178)

    All staff whose personnel costs or effort are charged to H2020 projects must regularly complete timesheets, which should include only the hours worked on the research project (split by work-package). The proportion of time spent on the project(s) is based on average productive hours agreed by the EC, currently 1,720 hours per year.

    For part time staff, please ensure the hours worked reflect the percentage of time that they are employed on the grant. When recording annual leave you should ensure that the productive hours are still split correctly as per your employment contract. If you are employed at 40% of your contracted hours on a project, you should ensure that 40% of your productive hours are allocated to the EC grant. Any differences will affect the salary costs that we can recover from the EC.

    An exception to this is for staff who work exclusively on one H2020 project (either full or part time). It is not mandatory that these staff complete timesheets (although they can choose to do so). Instead, they can complete a declaration on exclusive work for the action for each reporting period.

    Please ensure that if you are undertaking a H2020 project, you have adequate processes for time recording in place for those staff (including PIs) who are fully or partially charged to H2020 awards.

  • Marie Curie

    There is currently no obligation for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) or Marie Curie fellows to complete timesheets in the same way that we would expect for other EC grants. However, when audited we have to show what work has been carried out each month, and be able to back this up with evidence.

    We therefore request that all individuals complete monthly work logs in line with standard EC time recording requirements.

  • FP7

    The EC's requirements for time recording in FP7 are laid out in the FP7 Guide to Financial Issues (link is external) (see p. 55).

    All staff whose personnel costs or effort are charged to FP7 projects must complete timesheets. The timesheet should reflect 100% of an individual’s time including work on other projects, absences and holidays. The proportion of time spent on the project is based on the individual’s actual productive hours. For timesheet templates please contact the post-award team.

    Please ensure that if you are undertaking an FP7 project, you have adequate processes for time-recording in place for those staff (including PIs) who are fully or partially charged to EU FP7 awards.

  • Proof of work

    At audit you’ll be asked to prove that you research took place, below is a useful list of records to keep throughout your project on Box so that it is ready in advance.

    • Monthly work logs
    • Evidence of regular meetings with PI / supervisor including meeting notes, emails and work plans
    • Published articles which must clearly display EU logo / reference project
    • Workshop attendance including sign in sheets, photos and presentations
    • Website screenshots
    • Twitter feeds
  • Things to remember
    • Complete timesheets for every month you are charged to the grant
    • Record all annual leave and absences on the form (FP7 only)
    • Print & sign (by both employee and authoriser - usually PI) all timesheets on a monthly basis (i.e. don’t save them up and get them all signed on the same date). Auditors need to see the forms signed & dated for each month the form is completed.
    • Keep original hard copies on file
    • Upload scanned copies into Box on a regular basis
  • Common errors

    Several errors have been highlighted for active projects, these include:

    • Missing timesheets
    • Unsigned timesheets
    • Timesheets not completed within 1 month
    • Dates not included
    • Timesheets not signed by individual and senior member of staff i.e. PI not countersigned by HOD.
    • No comprehensive work logs for Marie Curie staff

    All of these can result in personnel costs being disallowed.

Audit

All H2020 grants which hit the €325,000 threshold will require an audit at the end of the project, regardless of when the threshold is met.

This varies from the FP7 model, whereby an audit must occur every time €375,000 is reached so €375,000, then €750,000 etc.

Post Award will liaise with PIs prior to and during an audit to ensure that all evidence (timesheets, receipts etc.) is available. We will assist the auditors by setting up appointments with the payroll department and answering queries. EC Project Administrators are required to produce cost statements and provide evidence in advance of the audit, and to assist with queries as soon as possible to enable audits to be completed before deadlines.

Please be aware that audits for H2020 grants are significantly more detailed than for FP7 or other funders. Additional evidence of expenditure eligibility will need to be provided (see evidence section above) and the auditors will need to meet with the project team.

Please see these audit documents to get an idea of what we will be asked for during an audit and ensure that you keeping sufficient records throughout the lifetime of your project.