The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is the largest independent funder of social science research whose resources do not derive from public funds. The core of the Foundation's work is a strong evidence base built from robust research findings and other search activity.  The Foundation seeks to fund research and development which has the capacity to change policy or practice for the better. 

The work is divided into a number of priority themes, each of which is supported by a specialist research committee. Each committee identifies priority areas within these themes. The Foundation then opens Calls for Proposals for these priority areas. The priority themes are poverty, place and ageing society.

Latest Information

Applications are currently being accepted for the following calls:

  • Improving Employee Fringe Benefits Schemes for Low-Paid Employees.
  • Do Low-Paid Workers Gain When Firm Productivity Increases?
  • What Explains the UK’s Productivity Problem in Low-Wage Sectors?

Calls For Proposal

Improving Employee Fringe Benefits Schemes for Low-Paid Employees

This call is for a project to explore how employee fringe benefits can be made better for low-paid employees and to develop practical solutions to support employers to improve their schemes to better meet the needs of low-paid employees.

Key information is as follows:

  • Project timescale: Four to six months.
  • Budget: £40,000 (including VAT and expenses).
  • Deadline for submission: 7 June 2017 (23:59).

Do Low-Paid Workers Gain When Firm Productivity Increases?

This call is for new evidence from quantitative and/or qualitative data on the following questions:

  • Do improvements in firm productivity – sometimes or always – lead to higher wages for those in low-wage jobs? How does the size of the wage increase relate to the size of the productivity improvement?
  • What factors determine whether, and how much of, the benefits of productivity improvements accrue to low-paid workers?
  • How does the relationship between productivity and wages depend on how productivity is improved? What types of productivity gains benefit low-wage workers most?

Key information is as follows:

  • Project timescale: Five months, starting July 2017.
  • Budget: £60,000 (including VAT and expenses) for one or two projects.
  • Deadline for submission: 1 June 2017 (23:59).

What Explains the UK’s Productivity Problem in Low-Wage Sectors?

This call is for new evidence on the factors explaining the UK’s lagging productivity in low-wage sectors. The project aims to improve our understanding and the evidence base on some or all of the following questions:

  • What does theory and evidence suggest are the most important drivers of productivity in low-wage sectors?
  • What is the relationship between productivity in low-wage sectors and productivity in other sectors of the economy?
  • At an aggregate sector level, what are the key differences in the drivers of productivity between low-wage sectors in the UK and leading OECD countries, and what is the evidence that these differences have a causal impact on productivity?
  • What are the key differences between firms within low-wage sectors in the UK, and what is the evidence that these differences have a causal impact on productivity?
  • Does the UK’s workforce composition in low-wage sectors – including its gender, ethnicity and age profile – have any implications for productivity, and how does this compare to other OECD countries?

Based on this new evidence, the project should then develop recommendations for how a range of stakeholders – including central government, local and city region governments, local enterprise partnerships, businesses and trade bodies – can improve productivity in low-wage sectors.

Key information is as follows:

  • Project timescale: Three months, starting July 2017.
  • Budget: Up to £40,000 (including VAT and expenses) for one project only.
  • Deadline for submission: 21 June 2017 (23:59).

Key Criteria

Any individual or organisation can apply but they must have the potential to pursue housing, social care or social policy projects.

The Foundation's interests are UK-wide.

Proposers are expected to follow employment policies which do not exclude anyone on the grounds of race, gender, sexuality, age or disability.

Eligible Expenditure

The substance of each Call varies. The following points should be considered:

  • For some programmes of work, projects with novel and innovative approaches which are already in the development stage will be welcome.
  • Some programmes will contain a number of themes and sub-themes covering a broad canvas within which proposals are sought over a period of time.

The Foundation supports programmes and projects which use a variety of methods.  They include:

  • Conventional research - drawing on a variety of disciplines and which may or may not move into a development phase, for example, by producing training materials or a good practice guide.
  • Research and development - where action is intertwined with research.
  • Demonstration projects which are monitored or evaluated - these must involve innovative schemes from which conclusions of general relevance can be drawn.

Match Funding Restrictions

As a general rule, the Foundation aims to provide full financial support rather than being one of a number of funders.


The Foundation does not generally support the following:

  • Projects outside the current priorities (full details are available on the JRF website).
  • Development projects which are not innovative.
  • Development projects from which no general lessons can be drawn.
  • General appeals, for example, from national charities.
  • Core or revenue funding, including grants for buildings or equipment.
  • Conferences and other events websites or publications unless they are linked with work which the Foundation is already supporting.
  • Grants to replace withdrawn or expired statutory funding, or to make up deficits already incurred.
  • Educational bursaries or sponsorship for individuals for research or further education and training courses.
  • Grants or sponsorship for individuals in need.

Application Procedure

All applications should be submitted online through the Research Councils’ Joint Electronic Submission system (Je-S).

Further information and supporting documents are available for each individual call on the JRF website.

Addresses and contacts

Application forms may be available to download on this site - please see the downloadable files on the right hand panel at the top of this page - or alternatively please check the funding body’s own website.

Contact details:
Christine Appleton
Joseph Rowntree Foundation
The Homestead
40 Water End
YO30 6WP
Telephone: 01904 615911