25 November 2015

IChemE responds to UK engineering and science budget announcement

Spending review
The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has given a cautious welcome to the UK government’s 2015 Spending Review, announced in Westminster today. Against a backdrop of wider cuts to public spending, annual expenditure on science and innovation totalling £4.7 billion has been protected in real terms through to the end of the current parliament in 2020.

Highlights of the review for chemical engineers include:

• A protection of science resource funding in real terms and a commitment to capital spending on engineering and science of £6.9 billion between 2015-2021
• A doubling of funding for energy research, including more than doubling the funding for research into renewable energy technology and £250 million for research on small modular nuclear reactor
• Exemptions for energy intensive industries, including steel, from the costs of the Renewables Obligation and Feed in Tariffs
• A new National College for Nuclear based in Cumbria and Somerset, and a National College for Onshore Oil and Gas in Blackpool
• £4 million to establish an Antimicrobial Resistance Centre of Excellence in Research and Development at Alderley Park
• Implementation of the Nurse Review recommendations, including a rationalisation of the Research Councils and the incorporation of Innovate UK into a new body, Research UK

Among less welcome news was a little publicised announcement confirming that the £1 billion ring-fenced capital budget for a Carbon Capture and Storage Competition has been scrapped. The Department of Energy and Climate Change faces a real term budget cut of 16 percent and all references to climate change are framed in an economic context with a focus on reducing the deficit, rather than reducing carbon emissions.

Elsewhere, concerns were raised at the decision to scrap much of the existing Innovate UK grant programme with new finance products in the form of loans. IChemE chief executive, Dr. David Brown said: “A move from grants to loans is a very bad idea and one that will stifle innovation by reinforcing the situation where the UK is seen as a country of inventions, but not one that provides adequate support for commercialisation.”

He concluded: “At first glance, this settlement is good news for engineering and science in the UK, but as ever, the devil will be buried in the detail. IChemE will be closely examining the full implications of the spending review and we will continue to highlight the importance of continuing support for UK research, development and deployment as well as STEM teaching, training and apprenticeships.”

My IChemE

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