Budget increase for science underwhelms industry leaders

Science

There was distinct upset for scientific leaders after the budget boost was announced on Wednesday by Rishi Sunak.

It was pointed out by both business leaders and scientists that delaying funding and investment would result in other Countries overtaking the UK because they have invested a larger amount into scientific research.

“It is not absolutely ideal. But we are grown-ups.“

It was declared by Rishi Sunak that his commitment of £22bn would be delayed 5 years to 2026 which is post the next general election, so there is uncertainty regarding the veracity of this statement. However, it has been promised that there will be a boost of £5bn prior to the end of this Parliament, this figure is over 30% more than the £15bn annual budget dedicated to research now.

It has been said that the majority of this increase will be in 2023. £2bn will be allocated to a Horizon Europe membership, which is the EU's key funding programme for research and innovation. According to sources, the membership is being utilised in arbitrations with the EU regarding Northern Ireland’s position.

Professor Sir Adrian Smith, President of the UK's Royal Society, said "It is not absolutely ideal. But we are grown-ups. There are real pressures on the economy, but the government is saying that it really does recognise that R&D [research and development] is absolutely vital."

Director of the Wellcome Trust, Sir Jeremy Farrar, said "We welcome the government's ongoing commitment to making the UK a science superpower. But it will need to continue to increase investment in science to catch up with other leading science nations. The UK's investment in R&D as a proportion of GDP lags behind the OECD average, and it will take time to change that."

Prof Sir Jim McDonald said "The comprehensive package of investment for R&D announced today gives much needed confidence to businesses that the UK is a great place to invest. The measures outlined by the chancellor today will stimulate innovation for a better, faster and more resilient recovery."

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