26 June 2013

UK science capital budget boost

George Osborne
The UK’s science budget has been spared cuts in the Government’s latest spending review and will receive a welcome increase to its capital budget from April 2015.

The science resource budget of £4.6bn per year has been frozen, despite further cuts to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills of six per cent in 2015-16.

However, the current science budget has not increased since 2010/2011 and today’s announcement is a further cut in real terms.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, also announced further resource budget cuts to the Department for Energy and Climate Change (eight per cent) and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by (ten per cent).

However, there was good news for UK science’s capital budget which will increase to £1.1bn from 2015/2016 and kept at that level for the rest of the decade. Capital expenditure has been cut heavily in recent years by an average of 41 per cent compared to 2010/2011.

The Government also announced its intention to change tax and planning regulations to support the development of shale gas in the UK.

The Chancellor said: “Scientific discovery is first and foremost an expression of the relentless human search to know more about the world but it is also an enormous strength for a modern economy. From synthetic biology to graphene – Britain is very good at it. And we’re going to keep it that way…Investment in science is an investment in our future.”

David Brown, chief executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), said: “Science operates in a global market place, so avoiding cuts to the science resource budgets is good news in another tough spending review.

“The increase in capital spending is very welcome and will help to make up for the significant cuts in this area since 2010/2011.”

The UK will spend around £740bn of tax-payers money in 2015/2016. The chancellor announced further budget cuts of £11.5bn in today’s statement. The science resource budget will account for just 0.6 per cent of total Government spending in 2015/2016.

My IChemE

IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).