Tag Archives: Defence

Government publishes science indicators

Last week the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills published the 2011 SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) Statistics. They provide a useful look at Government expenditure on SET by departments, the number of qualified scientists and engineers in the labour force and a number of comparators of UK expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) against other G7 countries.

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Defence R&D Budget Spared Cash Cuts

In last month’s Spending Review, the Science Budget received a cash freeze over 4 years, which was welcomed by a science and engineering community who had feared much larger cuts. However, as CaSE has sought to highlight, although the Science Budget may be the most high profile stream of support,  it is not the only component of  publicly funded science in the UK. Particularly important is departmental Research and Development (R&D) spending, much of which was not covered in the Spending Review.

Government departments fund a great deal of R&D, totalling £3.4 billion in 2007/08.  Departments need to invest in research to secure the evidence-base for their work, to develop new policies and technologies and to evaluate those already in place as well as those that are being planned. R&D budgets might have been more vulnerable to cuts than other areas, because they do not directly deliver ‘front-line’ public services.

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Programme for Government: Good vision, but where’s the plan?

The coalition government has published more details of its plans in Our Programme for government this morning. It does not add much to the initial coalition agreement with respect to science and engineering policies. It certainly lacks many policies that might be expected from looking at the pre-election promises from each of the parties. The introduction states:

we both want to build a new economy from the rubble of the old. We will support sustainable growth and enterprise, balanced across all regions and all industries, and promote the green industries that are so
essential for our future. (page 7)

The Government has given us an important and ambitious vision of a ‘new economy’, but not enough detail on how science and engineering will help us get there.

Science and engineering have a critical role to play in achieving growth and reducing the deficit. The coalition needs to explain how and when it will develop a long-term strategy for science and engineering. This is necessary to address the technological challenges facing the UK, to secure our international competitiveness, and to make the most of the economic growth that investment in innovation can provide.

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Civilians in Defence

Jonathan Green is Pay and Public Research Officer for Prospect

An enduring image of General Election campaigns in the 1980s was the attitude of the main political parties to defence.  It is ironic that we approach the current General Election campaign with the likelihood that whatever government is elected a significant realignment of Britain’s defence posture is underway by default that is every bit as significant as the choices faced by voters in the 1980s.  Not only is there a serious discussion about the merits of retaining nuclear deterrence capability but also there is likely to be cuts in defence spending that will downgrade Britain’s future defence capability, particularly in research and development.  The strategic defence review, that the current government has launched is considering Britain’s foreign policy objectives and potential future threats.  But the real decisions on defence spending will be made after the election when the scale of cuts for each government department emerges.

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