23 November 2016

IChemE responds to UK government's Autumn Statement

Image credit: www.gov.uk

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has given a cautious welcome to today's Autumn Statement by UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond.

Speaking immediately after the Statement, IChemE Director, Andy Furlong, said:

“At first glance, there is a huge amount for the UK science and engineering community to celebrate in the Autumn Statement. The National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) is set to provide £23 billion of additional spending on transport, digital communications, research and development and housing. This could have a positive impact for the chemical engineering community, which is closely involved with delivering the processes and materials needed to make these things happen.

“IChemE welcomes the commitment to providing an additional £2 billion per year in research and development funding for universities and industry. This spells a major step towards achieving the target for public and private R&D spending in the UK to reach 3% of GDP by 2025. A substantial proportion of this funding will be delivered through Innovate UK and this bodes well for innovation in the UK. However, funding decisions will be taken by a new board. The make-up of that board will have a significant influence on the destination of that funding, and IChemE will work to ensure that chemical engineering has a voice at the table.

“The capping of the carbon price floor at £18 per tonne of CO2 from through to 2020 provides a degree of certainty to energy-intensive industries. Some voices, particularly in the chemicals sector, have called for the total abolition of carbon price support. However, IChemE believes that stable carbon pricing is a key instrument in the drive towards the eventual decarbonisation of the process industries.

“We should bear in mind that UK's national debt has grown to £1.7 trillion and it continues to grow at an eye watering rate of more than £5,000 every second. Significant economic growth is needed to address this challenge and it is essential that these spending decisions deliver tangible outputs. It is not immediately clear from the Autumn statement how these outputs will be measured. IChemE calls for close scrutiny to ensure that these substantial allocations of taxpayers' money go on to deliver sustainable results that benefit everyone in the UK.”

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