Science is Vital is extremely concerned to read reports that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is planning to cut research funding in 2014. The science budget was ring-fenced in the 2010 Spending Review and we will fight any attempt to drop this commitment.
A memorandum leaked from BIS reveals that it is considering clawing back a projected over-spend of £1.4bn by cutting the science budget and student support. According to the leaked memo, the current budget problems arose from a failure to control student numbers, especially in the private sector. The possibility of cuts will come as a major disappointment to researchers across the country; they have weathered austere times with a flat cash settlement in 2010 that has already eroded the science budget by almost 10% in real terms.
The BIS memorandum discusses cuts of £215m from the ring-fenced science budget. This would be a serious threat to science in the UK, and would constitute a reversal by the government; it would contradict the government’s publicly declared intent, as George Osborne put it last year, “to make the UK the best place in the world to do science”.
Dr Jennifer Rohn, Chair of Science is Vital, said: “The government has talked about making Britain the best place in the world to do science. It needs to make good on that promise. In March we, together with over 50 renowned scientists, called for a long-term increase in science funding to 0.8% of GDP to ensure the future of science in the UK. BIS must find ways to meet its obligations to research by maintaining its promised funding in the short term, and in the long-term, by increasing it.”