Published: June 2022

This briefing provides an in-depth discussion of research expenditure by our member charities in 2021. You can also access a breakdown of the spending of our member charities in our Member Dashboard and you can find previous published briefings in our Reports archive.

Nicola Perrin, CEO of the Association of Medical Research Charities said:

"The financial year of 2020/21 was predictably difficult for the sector. The pandemic’s impact was as we projected, severe, with a shortfall of £260 million in research spend mainly caused by the hit to fundraising income.

“This has forced our charities to re-forecast their research spend over the next few years and many have had to make difficult decisions. Over a third of our members have had to cancel or cut funding for early-career researchers and research into new treatments.

“We’re seeing encouraging signs of resilience and recovery, with more charities increasing their research spend and over a third saying their spend had not been affected or had already recovered. Unfortunately, though, for many there is still a long way to go.

“Most are still struggling with the impact of COVID and anticipate more challenges with the rise in cost-of-living and the loss of access to EU research funding programmes, talent and opportunities for international collaborations. Public donations have also been directed towards alternative causes with the proportion of people giving to medical research dropping from 25% in 2019 to 21% in 2021.8

“AMRC will continue to support our charities in growing their research investment and strengthening the UK’s extraordinary and collaborative system, to deliver ground-breaking treatments and innovations that benefit us all.”

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. 150 member charities returned research expenditure data for the financial year ending in 2021.
  3. MRC and NIHR UK research spend from 2020-21 annual reports, excluding official development assistance (ODA). 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. COVID-19: The risk to AMRC charities, published June 2020.
  7. From annual survey of members completed in Jan-Feb 2022.
  8. From Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving Report 2021 (page 17).


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.