Valuing charitable investment in medical research

Posted on October 21, 2010 by

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David Willetts was speaking to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) today and in among the talk about the Browne Report he took a moment to reflect on the spending review and what it means for science – including a nice mention of charitable investment in the UK’s research base.

The other main news from the Chancellor yesterday concerned funding for science and research. It is good news for HEFCE’s QR funding and Higher Education Innovation Fund, and good news for the Research Councils and National Academies.

It is proof that this Government recognises the fundamental role of science and research in rebalancing the economy and restoring economic growth. Despite enormous pressure on public spending, the overall level of funding for science and research programmes has been protected in cash terms. And as we implement the efficiency savings identified by Bill Wakeham, we should be able to offset the effects of inflation – thus maintaining research funding in real terms.

There has also been a great deal of pressure to maintain flexibility in government spending. A stable investment climate for science and research – as we all know – allows universities and research institutes to plan strategically, and gives businesses, public services and charities the confidence to invest in the research base. I am delighted to confirm, therefore, that the ring-fence for science and research programmes has therefore been maintained.

Across the country, we have excellent departments with the critical mass to compete globally and the expertise to work closely with business, charities and public services. This £4.6 billion settlement for science and research should mean that we can continue to support them.

Just yesterday, he responded to a question from Mary Glindon MP about the contribution of medical research charities to the UK:

Mrs Glindon: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the contribution to (a) the economy and (b) university research of funding for medical research from charitable sources since 2005. [17991]

Mr Willetts: The Government welcome the valuable contribution from charities to medical research in the UK. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has not carried out any specific analysis of the contribution of funding for medical research from charitable sources to the economy or university research since 2005. However, the Medical Research Council was a sponsor of the document “Medical Research: What’s it worth?” which was published by RAND Europe in November 2008. This analysed the economic impact of both public and charitable funding. It demonstrated that every pound invested in cardiovascular research over the period of the study resulted in a benefit to GDP of 39 pence per year in perpetuity.

Posted in: Policy