Cancer Research UK cuts research funding as COVID-19 hits income


Cancer Research UK has cut funding to its research activities, as the charity faces a cut to its income by up to a quarter in the next financial year because of the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.

The charity funds around 50% of cancer research in the UK, but said it has had to cut funding for existing grants and institutes by up to 10% and its national network of centres by around 20%.

This comes to a £44 million cut to its research portfolio across the year, the charity’s directors said in an open letter to its researcher community.

Cancer Research UK is a fundraising charity and relies on supporters’ donations to keep going, and receives no support from the government.

But its shops are closed, fundraising events are cancelled, and legacies have been reduced.

Therefore fundraising income is expected to fall by at least 20-25% in the next financial year as a result of the coronavirus – a reduction of around £120m.

CRUK acknowledged in an open letter to researchers that the cuts will be “devastating” to the work of its scientists and clinicians, and will be contacting everyone affected.

The charity did not say how many projects or jobs would be affected.

Some of the charity’s work is carried out by its institutes, which directly employ scientists and researchers.

The rest of the work is done in research projects at universities or London’s Francis Crick Institute, and scientists working on these would be typically employed by the institution with the CRUK funding covering or paying part of the project costs.

With universities closed and laboratories winding down their activities researchers are working from home.

The charity said that the progress of cancer research will slow down, which will “inevitably have an impact on researchers’ careers and the lives of people affected by cancer.”

Many of CRUK’s academics have been called to the frontline in hospitals to help with the effort to treat COVID-19, and some scientists have volunteered at coronavirus testing hubs.

The Francis Crick Institute, which CRUK helps to fund, has converted part of its laboratories into a COVID-19 testing service for NHS staff, which could process around 3,000 tests per week.