Controversial rule that would prevent grantees advising government was heavily criticised by scientists

Earlier this year a controversial new ‘anti-lobbying’ clause was proposed to be included in the terms and conditions of government grants to prevent charities and other organisations from using the money to lobby government. Now, the government has rowed back on the most significant parts of the clause after an outcry.

The proposed rule drew strong criticism from scientists and charities who pointed out it could stop academics providing expert advice to policymakers if it applied to funding awarded through research councils. In response, the government agreed back in April to exclude the rule from research grants. Now, ministers appear to have abandoned the anti-lobbying rules altogether.

In a recently published clarification on the terms and conditions of grants, the Cabinet Office stated that ‘academic autonomy is critical to the strength of science and research’, and that those receiving grants would be allowed to contribute scientific advice to help inform policy.

It is, however, still forbidden for grant recipients to use the money to work with professional lobbying organisations.