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Cabinet Office announcement marks the end of the anti-lobbying clause

02 Dec 2016

Today the Cabinet Office has announced new standards in government grants that put to bed the controversial anti-lobbying clause proposed earlier this year which raised widespread concern of ‘gagging’ of scientists and researchers.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy have assured researchers that it means business as usual for the full range of activities encompassed by government grants for research, including contributing advice to inform government policy making and making the case for science. The department are confident that current practices in research will meet all the requirements of the Standards.

CaSE Director, Dr Sarah Main, said:

“This is good news. Having paused the anti-lobbying clause, the Government have listened to the concerns of the research community and developed a new position that fully supports researchers in all that they do to inform and influence policy-making.”

“This new set of standards marks the official end of the anti-lobbying clause. CaSE worked hard to protect research from the implications of the anti-lobbying clause earlier this year. I am glad that the government have listened and have fully understood and endorsed the full range of activities of the research community, not just in exploring their own fields but in communicating their findings and informing policy.”

The Cabinet Office hope the new standards will address concerns about misuse of government grants following inquiries into Kids Company.

You can read about CaSE’s work on the anti-lobbying bill from earlier this year.

The full list of grant standards published by the Cabinet Office today are as follows: 

1.   All government grants require a named senior responsible owner with clearly defined responsibilities throughout lifetime of grant.

2.   Departments will ensure they have a robust grants approval process to approve spend over £100,000, and that details of all current grant schemes and awards are available on the Government Grants Information System .

3.   New government grants, including those that are high risk, novel and contentious, as well as those undergoing a step change in scope or funding, should be considered for submission to the New Grants Advice Panel for scrutiny and advice from subject experts.

4.   A robust business case, proportionate to the level of expenditure and risk, must be developed for all government grants.  This will be scrutinised and approved in stages, as part of grants approval process, in line with the guidance in Managing Public Money.

5.   Government grants should be competed by default; exceptions may be approved where competition would not be appropriate.  Detailed supporting evidence for any direct award decision must be provided in the approved business case.

6.   All government grants must be awarded through robust grant agreements, proportionate to the value of the grant and which reflect the minimum standards for government grants, in line with guidance in Managing Public Money.  All government grant agreements will include terms of eligible expenditure.

7.   All government grants will be subject to timely and proportionate due diligence and fraud risk assessment.

8.   All government grants will have outputs agreed and longer-term outcomes defined, wherever possible, to enable active performance management, including regular reviews and adjustments where deemed necessary.

9.   All government grants will be reviewed annually at a minimum with a focus on financial reconciliation, taking into account delivery across the period, resulting in a decision to continue, discontinue or amend funding.

10. All those involved in the development and administration of grants must undertake core training in grant management best practice.