Benefits Advice Service for involvement – new confidential service providing advice and support launched 29 January 2015

Please note that benefits guidance and tax legislation been subject to considerable change/reinterpretation since 2019. Any INVOLVE documents referring to the payment of involvement fees may now be out of date and are pending a review during 2020. INVOLVE’s guidance should not be substituted for professional advice, and INVOLVE accepts no liability for decisions or actions taken as a result of its guidance. You are always recommended to take your own tax, finance or legal advice.

  • a new service offering personal advice and support on how payment of fees and expenses for public involvement* might affect people in receipt of state benefits
  • partnership service offering advice to people involved in health or social care research, service design or service delivery
  • the service will be provided by Bedford Citizens Advice Bureau, initially as a pilot for one year

Who is the Benefits Advice Service for?

The advice service will offer free, confidential advice on how payments or reimbursement of expenses might affect those receiving state benefits. INVOLVE on behalf of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is making it available to:

  • members of the public involved with NIHR organisations
  • members of the public involved in studies funded by the NIHR
  • researchers and staff within NIHR organisations or NIHR funded research project who are supporting members of the public to get involved

How will the Benefits Advice Service help?

Specially trained staff with knowledge of how payment for involvement might affect those in receipt of state benefits will be available to offer free personalised advice.

For members of the public, the service can support individuals:

  • to make an informed decision on whether and how to get involved, based on current, reliable information on their benefits and the activity that they are involved in or being offered
  • in corresponding with the Department for Work and Pensions about their involvement work.

For staff, the service can provide:

  • advice on the implications of offering payments and reimbursing expenses to members of the public
  • advice on offering and processing payments and expenses for involvement.

How can I contact the Benefits Advice Service?

If you or a member of the public involved with your NIHR organisation would like to use the service, please:

  • contact INVOLVE on or 020 8843 7117, stating which part of the NIHR you work (for example, BRU, CLAHRC, LCRN)
  • members of the public can contact us directly at INVOLVE using the contact details above (we do not need to know anything about their benefit situation – see information for members of the public)
  • the person enquiring will then be given an email address (or telephone number) to contact the benefits advice service directly, together with a unique code that will need to be quoted.
  • E-mail is preferred for the first contact. The service will then arrange a time to call you.

It is important to allow members of the public with enquiries to contact the benefits advice service directly, rather than raising any enquiries on their behalf. This will avoid misinterpretation or confusion in any advice offered.

If you are not sure whether your organisation qualifies to use this service, please contact INVOLVE on or 02380 595628.


The service is not able to give advice on tax or National Insurance enquiries, or on benefit queries relating to payment for participating in research (for example, for taking part as a subject of a clinical trial or research study).

INVOLVE is funding this service on behalf of and for the NIHR. Other partners who are also part of the service are:

  • NHS England
  • Health Research Authority (HRA)
  • Involving People (Wales)
  • Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and Think Local, Act Personal (TLAP)

Please contact us if you need contact details for one of the other partner organisations.

* In this context, public involvement means the active involvement of patients, potential patients, carers and people who use health and social care services (as well as people from organisations that represent people who use services) in decisions about health or social care research, service design or service delivery.