What happens if you don’t comply with Wellcome’s terms and conditions

When organisations and researchers accept grant funding from Wellcome they must agree to comply with the terms and conditions of the award. These terms and conditions are set out in the award letter and include our grant conditions and funding policies.

The purpose of our terms and conditions is to ensure that funding is used for the purposes for which it was awarded, and that the research is managed lawfully and continues to be run in line with Wellcome’s strategic aims.

Wellcome conducts organisational audits periodically to ensure that effective controls and processes are in place to manage funding according to our terms and conditions. We expect organisations to implement all recommended actions following an audit.

What we expect of funded researchers and organisations 

We expect funded researchers, other grant participants and organisations to be familiar with all terms and conditions for their awards. By accepting an award, the award-holder and the administering organisation agree to comply with our conditions and accept that any breach may lead Wellcome to take associated actions.

Wellcome may lessen any actions taken if the researcher and/or administering organisation proactively notify us of any breach and follow robust management in mitigating any breach.

What happens if a researcher or organisation does not comply 

We may take actions against a funded researcher, other grant participant or their administering organisation when:

  • there is non-compliance with any grant condition or funding policy as detailed in your award letter
  • there is a failure to improve compliance with our terms and conditions when we have requested this.

Additionally, we may take action against an organisation when:

  • it has received the audit rating of ‘unsatisfactory’ from Wellcome
  • recommended audit actions are overdue or not implemented.

Actions Wellcome may take 

Breaches of terms and conditions can vary in scale and impact. How we manage breaches is proportional to the type and severity of the breach. Where we can, we will provide a warning of our intention to take action to allow time to correct the breach or consider extenuating circumstances that led to the breach.

Unless specified, we may apply any action at an individual or organisational level.

Examples of actions:

How Wellcome manages breaches 

If you think that you, your organisation or someone associated with a Wellcome grant may be in breach of our terms and conditions, including our funding policies, then contact the Director of Research Funding.

We expect organisations to run any investigations that may be required. We will ask for further details if we consider this is necessary to protect our legitimate interests.

Information relating to breaches will be handled:

  • at a level of confidentiality appropriate for the type of breach,
  • in line with the UK’s data protection laws and
  • in line with our retention policies.

In all cases, information will only be provided to other Wellcome staff on a need-to-know basis.

We will work to minimise the impact on any staff working on affected grants. 

Breaches of our research misconduct and bullying, harassment, abuse and harm policy require specialist management. The way we handle these is set out in each of these policies.

Why we ask to be informed about breaches

We need to know about all breaches in funding terms and conditions. For information on how we handle breaches in our research misconduct and bullying, harassment, abuse and harm policy, please refer to each policy.

We need to be aware of all other breaches to terms and conditions associated with existing grants or any grants under investigation when a grantholder applies for a new grant. This is so that we can make responsible funding decisions.

Ongoing investigations of alleged breaches will not affect how we process or review a new application and will not be communicated to expert reviewers or panel members. But we may, for example, delay issuing an award until the matter has been resolved. 

This is to:

  • reduce risk to the project and/or
  • reduce the impact on other people who would be involved in the project, including newly recruited postdoctoral researchers, support staff and research participants.

How we handle information on breaches

After an award has been made, the administering organisation must tell us when there has been a breach in terms and conditions. 

This is so that we can:

  • make sure that grantholders receive the support they need
  • be aware of the potential impact on Wellcome-funded activities and the steps being taken to manage that impact, and
  • make any necessary onward report required by our regulator (the Charity Commission for England and Wales) and other relevant bodies as required by law.

The information you send us at any point should not include (unless discussed and agreed by Wellcome in advance):

  • sensitive personal information (such as special category personal data, as defined in UK Data Protection Act 2018)
  • information relating to criminal offences or convictions.

Any information you send to us will be:

  • kept by us for no longer than we need it for our legitimate purposes and in line with our retention policy. Where a breach is not upheld, we will retain the information for no more than five years after the outcome. Where a breach is upheld, we will retain the information for no more than ten years after the outcome, unless the sanction is still in place.
  • communicated to other organisations only where:
    • the grant is co-funded by another organisation(s)
    • we have a legal or regulatory obligation to report, or to comply with a court order to pass the information on.

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