Young social science researchers struggling to get on the career ladder will soon be able to apply for a new stream of funding.
The Economic and Social Research Council this week revealed its first grants targeted at young or early-career researchers.
Ian Diamond, chief executive of the ESRC, said: "We've identified that in the social sciences there is an urgent need to maintain the health of our disciplines."
The council anticipates awarding about 20 grants of up to £400,000 under the scheme. It aims to offer a leg-up to postgraduate researchers who have completed a PhD and are looking to launch their first major research programme.
But grants may also be offered to young researchers in industry looking to return to academia to pursue a social science research career. Presently, young social scientists have to compete with more established academics for funds.
Professor Diamond said: "It is hard for researchers at all levels to get grants. Success rates are currently one in five, so we need to help young people get on track."
The ESRC is pushing certain priority research areas for funding, such as economics and social work, but the first grant awards will not be confined to these areas.
The council is also launching a large grants scheme for experienced researchers seeking longer term funding for bigger projects, perhaps across more than one institution. Funding of up to £5 million will be available over five years.
Both awards are advertised in this week's Times Higher .
In addition, the council confirmed this week that it would streamline the application process for its international collaborative grants.
A spokesperson said that the hurdles that had existed previously, with multiple assessments for each application, had been removed.