Commenting on the Science Budget Allocations, Imran Khan, Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said:
“The allocations confirm that UK science and engineering faces four very tricky years ahead. While some of our international competitors are looking to the future, British research will be busy retrenching.”
“It is encouraging that the Government has tried to protect research where it can. It looks like capital spending on research will be hit less hard than capital spending across BIS – it’s down 41%, rather than the expected 44%. But this still means a dramatic reduction in investment in equipment and facilities, putting a big dent in Britain’s scientific credentials.”
“What’s especially worrying is that a lot of this ‘capital spending’ is actually maintenance and other long-term commitments, which can’t simply be stopped – the money will have to come from other sources, including research grants, instead. Cutting back on capital spending may have its own costs – the opportunity costs of not fully exploiting past investments in high-tech infrastructure, and the very real costs of redundancy payments to staff now deemed surplus to requirements.”
“There are going to be a lot of very difficult decisions which have to be made over the coming years. But it’s going to be crucial that UK science shows how socially and economically valuable it is, so that we can make the case for research spending in future.”
1. The Campaign for Science and Engineering is the UK’s leading advocacy group for the science and engineering sectors. It does not campaign on field-specific funding, or take a view on which areas of research deserve more funding than others.
2. The Government has made a clear prioritisation of medical research, with the MRC’s budget rising by about 5% over the next four years, while all other Research Councils face a small decrease. Although the MRC faces a big decrease in capital funding, this is partly offset by the funding for UK Centre for Medical Research & Innovation coming from the Department for Health instead of the MRC, as previously planned.
3. The UK Resource Centre for Women in SET, an organisation dedicated to supporting gender equality in the science and engineering sector, is set to lose all of its funding from April 2011.
4. The Science & Society and Evidence & Evaluation programmes within BIS face deep cuts – 16% and 54% cash reductions respectively.
5. The UK Space Agency is now funded entirely out of the Science Budget. Previously, some of the funding for the British National Space Centre came from outside the Science Budget.
7. The HEFCE grant letter is available here
8. The RCUK delivery plans are available here