Published: 16 June 2021

This briefing provides an in-depth discussion of research expenditure by our member charities in 2020. For a more in-depth narrative around the data, you can watch this video and download a slide deck here

Hilary Reynolds, CEO of the Association of Medical Research Charities said:

"The financial year of 2019/20 was a challenging one, with the UK officially leaving the EU and the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe. Unsurprisingly, the research spend of fundraising charities dropped, moving towards its first substantial dip in over a decade. 

"This new briefing shows our charities’ UK research expenditure fall to £1.7 billion in 2019/20. The financial year for most of our charities ended in March 2020 so this only captures the first couple of weeks of the pandemic. As you know, we’ve collected data throughout 2020/21 and this shows us the true scale of the impact: a £292 million drop in income, and a £270 million decrease in research funding. 

"Our charities have done everything they can to protect the research they fund; digging into precious reserves, adapting fundraising methods, merging with one another, making redundancies, and cutting non-research activities. We’re proud of how hard they’ve fought to honour existing commitments to researchers and research but many have had to sacrifice future commitments. This will delay access to life-changing treatments and slow medical advances that are crucial to saving and improving lives.

"AMRC will continue to work with Government and stakeholders to secure sustainable support that gets our charities back on track and grows the UK’s capacity to save and improve lives through research." 

Data sources and notes:

  1. Data for the previous financial year is provided to AMRC by members during an annual data collection exercise and is categorized into 4 domains: research in the UK; overseas research; capital projects (including building and equipment over £50K); other charitable activities (e.g. welfare, support, care and information).
  2. 154 member charities returned research expenditure data for the financial year ending in 2020.
  3. MRC and NIHR UK research spend from 2019-20 annual reports. Spending on research by health departments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland not illustrated.
  4. AMRC spotlight reports
  5. Wellcome’s expenditure fluctuates each year due to the timing of large commitments and renewals. Their UK research expenditure in 2018 was £285m lower than in 2017 because they spent £290m in five-year funding for UK Centres and PhD Programmes in 2017.
  6. 44% of AMRC charities have financial years ending after June 2020. Because of the varying timing of charities’ financial year ends, the pandemic may have affected the research spend of some charities already.


We are happy for our data to be used as presented but please ensure it is correctly attributed. Please contact our data team with any questions.