Science budget not looking so rosy…

Posted on September 14, 2011 by

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The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) have published a new analysis of UK science and engineering funding, finding that although the science budget was protected at £4.6 billion in last October’s spending review, by looking at departmental investment in research, the past year has seen an actual cut in the amount of funding going into science.

For health research, they conclude that the projected spend by the department of health may not amount to a real terms increase in investment once inflation is taken into account.

Lots of background and the full report on CaSE’s blog.

What does this mean for investment in health research?

Back in the spending review last October, the government made some undertakings towards science, and health research in particular (check out What does the spending review mean for health research?)

  • Science and research are singled out as an area with potential for growth and the need for public investment into the research base is recognised
  • The science budget is frozen at £4.6 billion annually and ringfenced. This budget includes the money for Quality Related funding distributed to universities by the Higher Education Funding Council for England – the pot that charity research support funding comes out of.
  • BIS will ensure MRC expenditure is maintained in real terms
  • The Department of Health will increase funding for medical research with a focus on supporting translation
  • The Department of Health will invest £220 million into construction of the UK Centre for Medical Research & Innovation

The CaSE report has looked at the projected Department of Health investment in research over the years of the spending review

2010-11                      £1,025 million

2011-12                       £1,004 million

2012-13                       £1,030 million

2013-14                       £1,059 million

2014-15                       £1,089 million

and factoring in the effect of inflation over the years has concluded that

Inflation will have to be much  lower than seems likely (on average, less that 2.74% – CPI has been 4% or higher for all of 2011) if spending of £1,025m in 2011-12 increasing to £1,089m in 2014-15 is to qualify as a real-terms increase.

This report doesn’t look at Research Council funding. The government committed to maintaining MRC expenditure in real terms but all research councils have had to make efficiency savings.

What next?

David Willetts, minister for universities and science,  actually appeared before the Commons Science & Technology Select Committee today as part of their ongoing inquiry into the impact of the 2010 spending review on science. This analysis was discussed… you can watch again here, or keep an eye on the committee’s website for the transcript.

Posted in: Policy