Today’s announcement of a continued cash value freeze of the core science research budget is disappointing. It means that, from 2011 to 2016, the budget will have seen a real-terms drop of around 10% in an internationally competitive sector. As demonstrated in our recent survey of UK scientists, this decline in resourcing science has already had a significantly negative effect on Britain’s ability to do research.
We do acknowledge the Government’s efforts support science in economically challenging times and welcome the increase in capital spending to make up some of the shortfall since 2010. That provides the stability needed to plan investment in new facilities. However, to maintain the UK’s reputation as a scientific world leader, we also need to be able to staff and equip both new and existing facilities. In that light the decision to prolong the flat-cash settlement beyond 2015 does not properly balance the the commitment to capital spending and is unlikely to reverse the erosion to our science base that has occurred in the past several years. That trend will continue as long as the Government does not increase investment in the core science budget.
We therefore reiterate our call to the Government to take a longer-term view, and to commit to raising the investment in scientific and technological R&D to 0.8% of GDP to help ensure the UK’s competitiveness in the global economy.