How we fund our grants

How are we funded?

Researchers who are thinking of applying to us for a grant need to know how the grant has been funded.

Our core grant programmes

Our core grant programmes are Research and Development, Small Grants, PhD Studentships and Taught Course Bursaries. They are financed exclusively through the income generated by our investment fund.

The investment fund was established in 1981 through the Licensing (Alcohol Education and Research) Act, following the winding up of the ‘Licensing Compensation Scheme’ (a licensed trade levy established under the 1904 Licensing Act to facilitate reductions in the number of licensed premises in areas where densities were considered to be high). It did not take long for the Scheme to effectively fall into abeyance but it was not until the 1981 Act that half of the residual funds were transferred via a liquidator to establish the Alcohol Education and Research Council.  In 2011, the AERC was wound up and the investment fund was transferred to a new charity, Alcohol Research UK.

The only constraints upon Alcohol Research UK in how it may use the investment fund are those imposed by charity law generally and its own charitable object, which requires that it be used to “reduce alcohol-related harm to individuals, families and communities”.

Co-funded programmes

Occasionally, we manage research programmes in partnership with other organisations, where we each provide a proportion of the funding. While separate to our core grants, our contribution to co-funded research is also provided through investment income.  Examples would include programmes we have worked on with the Medical Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Comic Relief, Balance North East and the Thomas Pocklington Charitable Trust.

Third-party funded programmes

Sometimes we manage research programmes on behalf of other organisations, where they provide all of the funding. Our role is to provide objective and expert oversight of the programme and ensure that it is undertaken independently of the funding organisation, thereby assuring its scientific credibility.  Third-party funding programmes are managed completely separately to our core and co-funded programmes and are advertised on this page of our website. The other organisation’s contribution is ring-fenced for the specific programme that we are managing for them. Any unspent funds are returned to them. An example would include programmes we have worked on with Drinkaware.

Relationship with other organisations that provide funds for co-funding or third-party programmes

Co-funded and third-party programmes are subject to a rigorous assessment process to ensure the proposed research is robust and add to the evidence-base.  Organisations that we work with on co-funded or third-party programmes have no wider involvement in the work of Alcohol Research UK.

Grant assessment and priority-setting

Our research priorities are set every three years by an independent panel of academic experts, and applications to our core programmes are assessed by our independent Grants Advisory Panel, following peer review.

Relationship with the Alcohol Industry

We do not accept funds from the alcohol industry.  Our policies on donations and interaction with industry can be seen here:

Guidelines on Interaction with the Alcohol Industry

Guidelines for the Acceptance or Refusal of Donations

The connection between the investment fund and the licensed trade is entirely historic and has no bearing on current activities. While the Alcohol Education and Research Council included a small number of alcohol industry members, Alcohol Research UK is a new charity and does not.

Policy on Ethical Investments

A significant proportion of our income comes from our investment fund.  Our investment policy states:

“The trustees preclude investment in companies that produce alcoholic beverages or tobacco as well as companies where more than 20% of sales are derived from their retail or distribution.  This includes funds that permit investment in such companies.  We encourage our investment managers to screen companies for ethical considerations and sustainability.”

For further information on the finances of Alcohol Research UK please visit our Accounts page.