Since its election in May, the UK Government has been considering how it wants to prioritise spending over the rest of the Parliament. Yesterday afternoon, the Chancellor George Osborne presented these plans to Parliament, giving the first public confirmation of how much Government funding will be set aside for science from 2016/17 to 2020/21. MRC Public Affairs and Policy Manager Jane Bunce looks at what we know and what details are still to come.
1 Dec 2015: The post has been updated to confirm that Innovate UK funding is being kept outside the ring fence.
The Conservative Government was elected on a pledge to eliminate the budget deficit, and, in further attempts to reduce public spending, deep cuts were expected in yesterday’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015. In the end, the Chancellor confirmed that over the four years £12 billion of savings would be made to Government departments.
The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the parent department through which research council funds are channelled, received an overall 17 per cent cut, compared with, for example, 24 per cent to the Treasury budget and 22 per cent to the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s resource budget. And while other parts of BIS, including higher and further education, are seeing heavy cuts, the science budget – the largest pot of public money funding UK science – seems to be largely spared.