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At the activation stage various controls are set on a grant to ensure that expenditure is charged in accordance with the sponsor’s terms and conditions.

Budgetary control

Budgetary control allows limits to be placed on the total expenditure on the award (‘award level’) and against each expenditure category e.g. staff costs, other costs (‘expenditure level’). Budgetary control is usually set to ‘absolute’ at award level to prevent overspend against the total award budget.

For expenditure category budgetary control can be either absolute or advisory. This depends on sponsor terms and conditions. An absolute level of budgetary control prevents virement across expenditure categories; an advisory level permits an overspend in one expenditure category when there is available budget in another.

There are two main combinations of budgetary control.

  • Absolute at award level with Absolute at expenditure category

This restricts the expenditure to the overall award budget and restricts the expenditure to the budget which has been set at expenditure category level (e.g. Other Costs). This prevents any virement across expenditure categories. Once the budget for that expenditure category has been spent, further transactions will fail funds checking.

  • Absolute at award level with Advisory at expenditure category

This restricts expenditure to the overall award budget. However, it is possible to overspend an expenditure category if there are funds available on another expenditure category.  Budgetary controls will only be set at ‘advisory’ if this is in accordance with the sponsor’s terms and conditions.

Transaction controls

Transaction controls are set up to allow spending against a specific expenditure category e.g. staff costs

These controls can be set at either project or task level, as appropriate. If an attempt is made to charge expenditure to a grant against an expenditure type or category that is outside the transaction controls set, an error message will appear on your screen. Your School Team in the Research Operations Office will be able to offer further clarification on this.

Funds checking

All transactions and purchase orders are checked against the budget to ascertain the funds available. If there are sufficient funds the expenditure or commitment will be recorded.  If the transaction has failed, there will be details of why it has failed.  It is not possible to approve an order or invoice if there are insufficient funds.

Other transactions e.g. journals or those which are imported into the Grants module e.g. payroll are funds checked once they are within the Grants module. These are flagged as a Funds Check Failure if there are insufficient funds available.

An exception report which details individual transactions which have failed grants processing including funds check failures is sent to departmental grants contacts daily. This report identifies where the funds check failure has occurred. Please note that an item which has failed funds checking is not recorded in the award status of the grant. Further details of this report are given at

Contact Research Accounting at if you do not know your departmental grants contact.

Expenditure incurred in excess of budget

In practice there are occasions when expenditure will have been incurred on a specific research project in excess of the available budget. This expenditure may not be recoverable from the sponsor and consequently will be borne by the department.

Research Operations Office will instruct Research Accounting to move the costs at the end of the grant.

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