CaSE responds to the 2011 Budget

“Extra cash a boost for science and engineering – but plan for growth still needed”
Press release

The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) today welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement of £100m of extra capital spending on science and engineering facilities – but warned that the UK seriously risks falling behind in the global high-tech stakes, even though we are a world-leader in basic research.

Today’s budget included £100m for extra spending on projects earmarked as priorities by the science and engineering Research Councils. The cash will be used to finance projects which could give the UK a globally competitive edge in key research areas.

However, the news comes in the wake of a hefty £1.4bn cut in capital spending on science by BIS, confirmed at the end of last year, and two weeks after China’s new budget confirmed that funding for their equivalent of the Research Councils will have doubled in the two years since 2009.

CaSE Director Imran Khan said:

“This is important news for our world-leading facilities in Daresbury, Norwich Research Park, the Barbraham Institute, the space innovation centre, and Harwell. We welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to making the UK a world-leader for fields including advanced manufacturing and life sciences, funded out of revenue from the bank levy. The extra funding announced today could be a first step on the path to making science and engineering pivotal to growth.”

“But labs across the country are going to be struggling to make ends meet following the budget cuts announced last year.”

“We have to use the UK’s high-tech base to help overturn our nearly trillion-pound debt. If the Chancellor wants to make the most of his new £100m investment, he should invest in science and engineering to the extent that our competitors, including China and Germany, are doing – or risk our economy lagging two steps behind.”

“George Osborne must build on today’s good news by working with academia and industry to develop a clear, well-financed, and long-term strategy to put science and engineering at the heart of this Government’s growth agenda.”

“The Chancellor said that today saw ‘a budget for making things’ – Britain’s scientists are engineers are ready to step up to the plate and help fulfil that promise, but they need to be sustainably funded to do so.”

Haldane Principle:

Khan added: “It’s reassuring that Government have resisted the temptation to cherry-pick politicised projects, and instead gone with the priorities already identified by researchers. This is properly consistent with the Haldane Principle, which limits political interference in science spending decisions.”

Tax system:

Khan added: “Rebalancing the economy, so that we’re less reliant on financial services and focus more on the knowledge economy, is key.”

“It’s great news for the UK’s small science and engineering businesses that their R&D (research and development) tax credit is going up to 225% by 2012, from 175% now. We urgently need to encourage home-grown industries that can exploit the UK’s world-leading research base.”

“We need to make sure that these tax credits can help all SMEs, even when they are in the early stages of their growth and might not yet have taxable profits.”

“The Chancellor also announced that it would be easier for people to write-off tax when they donate artistic or cultural exhibits. It’s disappointing that no similar announcement was made on making it easier for individuals or companies to invest in science and engineering facilities in our universities and research institutions.”

Clinical Trials:

Khan added: “It’s encouraging that the Government has rightly identified reducing approval times for clinical trials as an area for improvement. We’ll need to see the details, but if done correctly it could be a real boost to the UK biotechnology sector, especially given the UK’s world-leading research base in the life sciences.”

Apprenticeships:

Khan added: “Properly supported apprenticeships are incredibly important for the UK’s engineering industries. The Government needs to open a full dialogue with our engineering and manufacturing industries to properly assess the skills they need, and how apprenticeships fit into that skills profile. There are currently barriers for people trying to turn their apprenticeships into recognised qualifications, and this needs to be addressed.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1.       The Campaign for Science and Engineering is the UK’s leading independent advocate for the science and engineering sectors. Find out more at www.sciencecampaign.org.uk

2.       The details of the Chancellor’s budget statement are here

3.       The RCUK LFCF Roadmap, that lists some of the priorities identified, can be found here: http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/Infrastructure/Pages/lfr.aspx

4.       CaSE’s analysis of cuts in capital expenditure on research is here: http://sciencecampaign.org.uk/?p=2606

5.       Details of increase in China’s spending on science and engineering are here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6022/1251.full

6.       Details of Germany’s increase in science and engineering spending, even in the face of overall budget cuts, are here: http://blogs.royalsociety.org/in-verba/2010/08/02/german-federal-funding-for-science-continues-to-rise/

7.       The Government’s current formulation of the Haldane Principle can be found in Annexe A of this document: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/science/docs/a/10-1356-allocation-of-science-and-research-funding-2011-2015.pdf

8.       Details on the R&D tax credit can be found here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ct/forms-rates/claims/randd.htm#2

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One Comment

  1. J. Conboy
    Posted 25/07/2011 at 22:06 | Permalink

    Unfortunately, the governments big idea for boosting the economy is to spend £34 Bn on a foreign train set – HS2 – substantially more than the BIS annual budget. Puts a different perspective on an increase of £100m for science ?

    If you consider that the money could be better spent developing 21st century technology in this country, rather than importing 20th century technology from Germany or China, there are still a few days left ( to 29th July ) to respond to the DfT Consultation on HS2 – see http://www.highspeedrailconsultation.org for further information.

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