Memorandum submitted by the Economic and
Social Research Council (RCUK 05)
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL: ANNUAL
REPORT AND ACCOUNTS 2008-09
Thank you for your recent letter requesting
information following the Science and Technology Committee's review
of our Annual Report and Accounts for 2008-09. Please see below
answers to the questions in your letter.
1. What problems have Programme Assurance
Visits identified in 2008-09 and 2009-10?
BBSRC lead on the Programme Assurance visits for
the Research Councils and will answer this question on behalf
of all Councils.
2. What were the costs of running the Administrative
Data Liaison Service (ADLS) and New Secure Data Service (SDS)
in 2009 (page 13)?
The Administrative Data Liaison Service (ADLS) is
a three year pilot funded from 1 October 2008 to 30 September
2011. Technological advances in recent years have enabled the
formation of large administrative databases held by central and
local government. The ADLS will create a pioneering single "point
of contact" service to the academic community and government
departments which will signpost users to relevant administrative
data and support them to access it. The ADLS will also work closely
alongside government departments in extending the potential of
administrative data and promoting its use to researchers. The
total budget for the service is £515,174 over three years.
In the 2008-09 year in which the award began, £77,383 of
the total budget invested.
The Secure Data Service (SDS) is a two year pilot
funded from 1 October 2008 to 30 September 2010. This service
will provide controlled access to sensitive and/or disclosive
personal or organisational information which cannot be released
for research purposes under End User Licence or Special Licence
conditions. The establishment of the SDS will help to ensure that
the full research potential of these resources is exploited. It
will permit researchers to carry out detailed work to link data
and/or to create new analytical variables or to undertake analytical
procedures which require access to detailed identifying information.
The total budget for the service is £308,865 over two years.
In the 2008-09 year in which the award began, £82,602 of
the total budget invested. The ESRC received confirmation in July
2009 that the Large Facilities Capital Fund bid for additional
funding of £1.1 million to enable the accelerated expansion
of the SDS had been successful.
3. Why did the overall spending on knowledge
transfer (page 109) decrease between 2007-08 and 2008-09?
The ESRC has almost doubled its knowledge transfer
expenditure over the last three years from £2.3 million in
2006-07 to £4.0 million in 2007-08, and £3.9 million
in 2008-09. We have ambitions to further increase our investment
in knowledge transfer in order to maximise the impact of social
science research, even within a tough financial climate. The slight
decrease in expenditure in 2008-09 compared to 2007-08 reflects
changes to accounting procedures and internal allocation decisions
and maintains the greatly increased level of knowledge transfer
spend achieved in the previous year.
4. What is the Council's view of the quality
of services received from the Shared Services Centre?
The Shared Services Centre Ltd (SSC Ltd) began to
deliver services for Human Resources, Payroll, Information Systems
Support and Procurement functions to the ESRC in the spring of
2009 following a successful transition process. SSC Ltd has provided
a professional and consistent level of service to ESRC across
these functions during the post-transition stabilising period.
Performance is reviewed on a monthly basis by both ESRC and SSC
Ltd against an agreed set of key performance indicators as per
the Service Level Agreement to monitor the effective implementation
Finance functions transferred to the SSC Ltd this
week, and grants functionality will transfer in the summer of
5. The Committee requests a note setting
out the level of End Year Flexibility the Council could call upon
at the start of the year 2008-09, the amount drawn down during
the year and the balance carried forward at the end of the year
The table below sets out the amounts of End Year
Flexibility available to and drawn down by the ESRC in 2008-09:
|ESRC||Total DEL £m
| Revised EYF 1 April 2008||£3.315
|2008-09 adjusted published allocations
|2008-09 provisional outturn||£167.195
|EYF 1 April 2009||£2.244
6. What proportion of invoices in September was paid within
The proportion of invoices paid within 10 days in September 2009
was 60%. The proportion of September 2009 invoices paid within
30 days was 85%.
Please do contact me if you would like any additional information
to complete your review.
Professor Ian Diamond FBA FRSE AcSS