Commons Science & Technology Committee makes case for science investment to George Osborne

Posted on July 30, 2010 by

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The Committee has made an open submission to the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. It makes the case for sustained investment into UK science and research, outlining the UK’s strong science base and competitive international position, the economic benefits this can bring us, and the irreversible damage a lack of investment could cause.

Key documents

In particular its message that short term cuts to investment in science could undermine the science base and its ability to contribute to the economic recovery:

The impact of spending cuts on science and scientific research – March 2010
19. Failure to continue to increase investment in science would be both counterintuitive and counterproductive. Much good progress will be lost and the size of cuts to science are unlikely to make a significant dent in the deficit. We cannot at present reconcile the Government’s policy ambitions with its actions, and call upon the Government to increase spending on science within the next Budget, if it truly is committed to the principle of a knowledge-based economy.

The letter is brief, four pages, and emphasises seven points:

1. The UK is excellent at science and research and should not rely on private and charitable funders to maintain investment in R&D

2. The UK faces competition from abroad and needs to maintain investment in R&D to stay competitive

3. Investment from industry should be supported – noting that public investment can attract private sector investment

4. There are huge economic benefits of investment in science. This includes quoting the figures from the Medical research: what’s it worth analysis

Medical research brings huge economic benefits – for each pound invested by the taxpayer or charity donor into cardiovascular disease and mental health research, a stream of benefits is produced equivalent to earning 39 pence and 37 pence respectively each year ‘in perpetuity’

and the report commissioned by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust which found:

A £1 increase in UK government or charity spending on medical research could lead to an increase in private research spending from the pharmaceutical industry of between £2.20 and £5.10

5. & 6. Reduction in funding could impact on the UK’s ability to develop, attract and maintain a strong STEM skills base in the UK

7. Reductions in science spend would cause long-term damage to the UK science base

The letter ends by urging the government to ‘look beyond short-term considerations and consider science and research as an investment in the country’s long-term economic future’.

Posted in: Policy