Category Archives: Reports, Briefings and Consultations

CaSE 2015 Budget Briefing

New CaSE analysis shows that the UK research base has lost over £1 billion of investment over the course of this Parliament due to the government’s flat-cash ringfence policy.

It also reveals that if current government policy is maintained, overall funding for research will continue to be eroded by inflation despite recent capital spending commitments, with the overall shortfall reaching £2.3 billion by 2020.

CaSE has analysed investment since 2010 in the UK research base, composed of the resource ‘Science Budget’ and capital budget, over the term of this Parliament, comparing it to what would have been spent if 2010 budgets had been maintained in line with inflation. The analysis looks at overall research base investment and how the resource and capital budgets have individually affected investment in science and engineering. It also looks at planned investment in the next Parliament (2015/16 to 2019/20).

Key points:

  • A £1 billion real-terms shortfall in investment in the UK research base has accumulated over the course of this Parliament.
  • This shortfall will be over £2.3 billion by the 2020 general election if current government spending policy continues.
  • The resource ‘Science Budget’ has accumulated a £1 billion real-terms shortfall over the course of  this Parliament and this is set to increase to over £3.1 billion by 2020 if the flat-cash ringfence policy is continued by the next government.
  • Research capital investment has been unstable over the course of this Parliament but has not resulted in a significant shortfall overall. Due to the current government’s £1.1 billion per year investment plans, accumulative capital investment is predicted to be £800 million higher over the period of 2010/11 to 2019/20 than if investment only rose with inflation.

A £1 billion shortfall in investment has accumulated over this Parliament

The total research base budget, which includes resource and capital investment, has increased in cash terms from £5.5 billion in 2010/11 to a planned £5.9 billion in 2015/16. This represents an in-line with inflation increase overall (Figure 1). However, the annual funding shortfalls resulting from the 2010 flat-cash settlement for the resource ‘Science Budget’ have accumulated to a £1 billion loss to the UK research base over the lifetime of this Parliament.

Total investment dropped in 2012/13 and then gradually increased driven by ad hoc capital investments. However, these later investments have not been enough to recoup the money lost from the earlier drop in funding. The analysis shows that an above-inflation increase in investment in the next Parliament will be necessary to make up for money lost to the research base.

The research community is on track to meet the target of £428 million in efficiency savings to be achieved between 2010 and 2015, set by the Wakeham report. The shortfall revealed in this analysis has therefore not been absorbed through efficiency savings. University UK members have raised concerns that the long-term sustainability of research could be brought into question should the Wakeham recommendations be rolled forward into future years with similar expectations of savings.

Increased investment is needed to reverse the shortfall

In the 2013 Spending Review, the government announced that it would increase science capital investment to £1.1 billion in 2015/16, and maintain this in line with inflation each year up to 2020/21. This was reaffirmed in the Science and Innovation Strategy published in December 2014. However, this does not commit the next government, which could change this spending plan. None of the political parties have committed to increasing the resource ‘Science Budget’ from 2016/17 onwards (Note: The Liberal Democrats have said that they will keep the resource ‘Science Budget’ ringfence and increase it in real terms once the deficit is eliminated). If the current flat-cash ringfence is maintained over the next Parliament the accumulated shortfall for the research base will continue to increase (Figure 2).

There will be shortfalls in each year of the next Parliament, based on current government policy of capital investment rising with inflation from a baseline of £1.1 billion in 2015/16 and assuming a continued flat-cash ringfence. The overall loss to the UK research base will reach £2.3 billion by the end of the next Parliament. This acceleration is due to the acceleration in inflation currently forecast for the end of this decade.

There is a growing disparity between resource and capital investment

The resource ‘Science Budget’, distributed mainly by the research councils and higher education funding councils, covers the costs of conducting research, including researchers’ salaries. The capital budget supports the construction of new facilities and the purchasing of large pieces of equipment. In science and engineering, resource and capital is entwined, each equally requiring the other. Resource and capital budgets have been treated very differently by this government and it is unclear how the next government will treat them.

The capital budget was cut by 40% following the 2010 Spending Review. This resulted in a drop in investment in 2012/13 but ad hoc capital spending announcements since then have in fact meant that the 40% cash-terms cut never materialised (Figure 3, capital). Overall, capital investment has almost increased in line with inflation; by the end of 2015/16 the accumulative capital investment shortfall will be £41 million. However, from 2016/17 onwards, capital investment will be above what it would be if 2010/11 spending was maintained in line with inflation. Under current government policy and inflation forecasts, total capital investment is predicted to be £800 million higher than if investment only rose with inflation from 2010/11 to 2019/20.

The primary concern with capital investment has not been the impact of the 40% cut that was feared but instead the instability and uncertainty caused by cuts and the ad hoc announcements of capital. This has led to difficulties in planning for new research infrastructure or upgrading existing facilities, and created uncertainty for long-term research collaborations, including between academia and industry.

The resource ‘Science Budget’ has only had a £130 million cash increase over this Parliament (the Newton Fund introduced in 2014/15 contributed significantly to this) and its value has therefore been eroded by inflation. By the end of 2015/16 there is expected to be a resource investment accumulative shortfall of £1 billion (Figure 3, resource).

If the current flat-cash ringfence is maintained and a new baseline is taken from 2015/16 (to account for the slight cash increase the current government has provided) the shortfall will rise to over £3.1 billion by the 2020 general election. This acceleration is due to the acceleration in inflation currently forecast for the end of this decade.

Figure 3: Investment 2010/11 to 2019/20 (cash-terms)

 

If resource and capital budgets are not tied, the disparity between the two will grow, resulting in inefficient use of public funds.

Government investment in business research and innovation has increased

The government also invests in business-led research and innovation. This is distributed by Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board) and is not included in the research base analysis above.

Government investment through Innovate UK has increased from £277 million in 2010/11 to an expected £536 million in 2014/15 (Figure 4).

(Note: As reported in Technology Strategy Board Annual Reports and Accounts, listed as “technology grants”, except figures for 2014/15, which have not been reported yet but are anticipated to be £536 million in the Technology Strategy Board Delivery Plan for 2014/15).

This represents an 80% real-terms increase and has largely been driven by investment in catapult centres, which were introduced in 2011.

Notes

  • Research base investment data used in this analysis was obtained from government allocations documents (here and here) and additional allocations, accounted for in annual Budget and Autumn Statement documents obtained from the gov.uk website.
  • The data presented here does not include other areas of government spending, such as departmental R&D spending, and R&D tax relief.
  • The latest Office for National Statistics figures (2012) show a downward trend in government R&D spending since 2009 (Note: these do not account for tax relief), also analysed by CaSE, with reductions in expenditure in constant prices, driven by the Research Councils, Higher Education Funding Councils, and the Ministry of Defence. These figures are expected to be updated in June 2015.
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CaSE responds to BIS Capital Consultation

In response to the 2014 BIS Capital Consultation “Creating the Future: a 2020 Vision for Science and Research”, CaSE wrote a letter to the Universities and Science Minister, then David Willets, and developed a joint submission with The Science Council, outlining key issues raised by their respective member bodies.

As part of this submission, CaSE and The Science Council believe that decisions about capital spending should be guided by the following principles:

  • Long-term, stable and balanced strategy: a capital funding roadmap should sit within an overarching, long-term vision for UK science that supports high-quality multi­disciplinary basic and applied research, the development of a skilled workforce, sustains our world-leading universities and research institutions, attracts industries from all over the world and builds a diverse and sustainable innovation ecosystem.
  • Decisions must not be based on political expediency: capital infrastructure decisions must be determined by robust cost-benefit analysis outlined in a comprehensive business plan, not determined by electoral timetables or political agendas
  • Robust and transparent decision-making: a robust mechanism for making capital funding decisions should be outlined within a long-term research strategy. A long-term strategy must set out capital investment priorities and provide flexibility for investment in new technologies.
  • Science community-led decisions: within the robust mechanism, funding priorities and decisions at an operational level must be aligned with an overall strategy and made primarily on the basis of scientific excellence and potential impact.
  • Resources to match capital investment: funding of human and material resources to ensure efficient operation and maintenance of facilities and equipment should be matched to capital investment to ensure that resources are used efficiently and achieve the greatest impact.
  • Nurturing a highly skilled workforce: a highly skilled workforce is essential to maximise capital investment.  There needs to be an aligned, long term and adequately resourced skills and training strategy to nurture the next generation of talent to match the long term capital investment strategy.

The full response can be found here.

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New CaSE report: Improving diversity in STEM

A new CaSE report, Improving Diversity in STEM, shows that diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is much needed, but by all measures progress is too slow. Read More »

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New evidence: science investment boosts growth

A new independent report for CaSE shows that investing public money in science and engineering is good for the economy. The Economic Significance of the UK Science Base examines the economic impact of public investment in the UK science base.

The report looks in detail at the relationship between public funding of science and engineering and three levels of economic activity: total factor productivity growth in industries; ability of universities to attract external income; and interaction between individual researchers and the wider economy.  Read More »

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CaSE Opinion Forum on Immigration Policy

Over forty CaSE members and collaborators met with the Home Office in January 2014 at the offices of Fragomen, the world’s leading immigration law firm, to discuss on-the-ground experiences of UK immigration policy and its impact on the ability of these organisations to do their work. You can read a PDF copy of this summary here.

The meeting is one of a series of CaSE Opinion Forums over the coming year, to develop policy work and manifesto recommendations in the run-up to the 2015 General Election and subsequent Spending Review. Read More »

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CaSE responds to Lords report on international STEM students

‘Action needed to attract global STEM talent’

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has today called on the Government to make substantial changes to UK migration policy to reverse the declining trend in international STEM students.  Read More »

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CaSE response to Lords Committee inquiry on international STEM students

The following is CaSE’s submission to the House of Lords call for evidence on International STEM students  (dated 19th February 2014).

The final report can be viewed here and CaSE’s response here. Read More »

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CaSE responds to reforms in science A-level practicals

“Science A-level reforms are not practical at all”

While the Chancellor has committed to making the UK the best place in the world to do science, changes to A-levels mean that young people will be able leave school with the highest grades in science without being able to do science at all. Read More »

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CaSE responds to 2014 Budget

“New investments welcome but gear shift needed to win global race”

Below is CaSE’s response to the 2014 Budget. You can also read our our  2014 Budget background paper.

Read More »

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CaSE response to the Lords inquiry on Scientific Infrastructure

The following is CaSE’s full response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on scientific infrastructure – submitted June 2013. You can read CaSE’s response to the Committee’s final response here.

What role should the Government play in ensuring that there is an effective long-term strategy for meeting future scientific infrastructure needs?

A long-term strategy for meeting future infrastructure needs must be underpinned by a scientific infrastructure roadmap and accompanied by a long-term funding commitment.  Such a roadmap will include the case for well-argued large facilities, in addition to the maintenance and upgrade of existing facilities and provision for international collaborations. Read More »

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Can the Chancellor promote the UK to the scientific premier league?

“The spending review is about making choices, and for me science is a personal priority.”

Chancellor George Osborne at last week’s ‘topping out’ ceremony at the Francis Crick Institute

“I am up for the challenge… of making Britain the best place in the world to do science.”

Chancellor George Osborne in speech to the Royal Society 9 November 2012

CaSE welcomes the positive signals from the Chancellor of the Exchequer about his personal commitment to science in advance of the spending review. Read More »

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CaSE reviews advisory network in Whitehall

Today the House of Lords is debating the role of departmental Chief Scientific Advisors (DCSAs). The debate has been called by the Chair of the Lords Science and Technology Committee, Lord Krebs, following the Committee’s report into the role and function of DCSAs, earlier this year.

Science and engineering impacts on the work of every government department, from climate change to transport infrastructure and military defence to school-age education. It is therefore crucial that independent scientific advice should be at the heart of government and that each department should have a CSA to deliver expert advice and oversee science policymaking.

Ahead of today’s debate, CaSE has produced the following briefing – giving an up-to-date review of the DCSA network across government.

Summary
CSA Scorecard
Sufficient Oversight Powers
Ministry of Defence
Department for Culture Media and Sport
Departmental Research & Development Budgets Read More »

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Immigration evidence needed – can you help?

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has launched a new consultation on the Shortage Occupations List, which closes on 30th November 2012.

The MAC is the Government’s main independent advisory body on immigration policy. Part of their role is keeping the Shortage Occupations List (SOL) up to date. If your job appears on the SOL, then you’ll have an easier time getting into the country.

The Government have recently asked the MAC, amongst other things, whether jobs on the SOL should be removed from the list automatically after two years – the rationale being that the SOL is intended to be a short-term measure, not a way of addressing long-term skills shortages. Read More »

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Changes to UK immigration rules

Introduction

New Immigration Rules took effect on 6 April that will change the way that research centres, universities and other employers recruit workers from outside of Europe.  More changes are due on 14 June 2012.

The extensive set of changes touched on every area of policy for Tier 2 migrants, the ‘skilled worker’ category.  There has been a lot of change, and staff in HR, the individual employees and their recruiting managers could be forgiven for losing track. Read More »

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CaSE Evidence to Lords Inquiry into Departmental Scientific Advisers

This following evidence was submitted by CaSE to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into the Role and Function of Departmental Chief Scientific Advisers (CSAs), on 11th October 2011. We’ve also compiled a Scorecard to rate the suitability of each  departmental CSA, which you can view here.

The Commitee’s report was published in February 2012 and you can read it here.

Introduction

  • 1. The Campaign for Science and Engineering is a non-profit organisation which advocates for the UK to become a better place in which to conduct science and engineering. We are supported by a hundred different organisational members in the science and engineering sector, ranging from universities and companies to learned societies and research charities. Read More »
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CaSE response to Liberal Democrat science policy review

The following is CaSE’s submission to the Liberal Democrat science policy review, dated 20th February 2012. You can access a PDF version of the submission here.

 

Dear Julian,

Thank you for your letter of 31st January 2012 inviting CaSE to contribute to your update of Liberal Democrat science policy. I have enclosed some of our reflections on the current state of UK science policy in the three keys areas you identified – money, people, and science in policy as well as recommendations which we hope your party will be able to implement in Government and for your next manifesto. I hope they are of use to you.

Read More »

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CaSE response to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee – Bridging the “valley of death”: improving the commercialisation of research

1. The Campaign for Science & Engineering (CaSE) is a membership organisation aiming to improve the scientific and engineering health of the UK. CaSE works to ensure that science and engineering are high on the political and media agenda, and that the UK has world-leading research and education, skilled and responsible scientists and engineers, and successful innovative business. It is funded by around 750 individual members and 100 organisations including industries, universities, learned and professional organisations, and research charities. Read More »

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Science Funding queried in Parliament

Science funding was today raised in the House of Commons, during oral questions to the Secretary of Sate for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), and CaSE was mentioned in the exchange.

Labour Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills Minister Chi Onwurah stated that the independent Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) showed that science funding had been cut by 12 per cent. Innovation support was being denied to businesses, she added.

Read More »

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Huge inconsistencies in science advice in Government

The scientific advice network across Whitehall suffers from wildly inconsistent support mechanisms, according to new research conducted by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE). While some departmental Chief Scientific Advisors (CSAs) have excellent links with their host department, many post-holders may not have sufficient independence, oversight, or access to ministers to properly fulfil their brief, according to the independent advocacy group.

Read More »

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CaSE Chief Scientific Advisor Scorecard

Responding to a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee inquiry into the work of departmental Chief Scientific Advisors (CSA), CaSE has compiled a scorecard to rate the suitability of each current departmental CSA up to September 2011. The scorecard has found “huge inconsistencies in science advice in government”.

Note that the scores relate to the departmental CSA structure, rather than the competency of the individuals themselves. You can view a PDF copy of the scorecard here.

Read More »

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