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Society joins calls to protect UK R&D funding

Published: 01 Apr 2021 in Society news

In its recent spending review, the government announced investment of £14.6 billion in R&D in 2021-22, building on commitments to increase public R&D investment to £22 billion per year by 2024-25 and to invest 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027. These funding commitments support government ambitions for the UK to be a ‘science superpower’, but recent funding decisions have led to concerns in the scientific community that the actual investment will be lower in real terms. The Society joins others in the sector in urging government to protect R&D budgets.

Specifically, we seek reassurance that:

  • Funding for association with Horizon Europe (around £2bn) will be an additional government commitment, and not drawn from the science budget of the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Diverting this funding would negatively impact on delivery of other projects and, as an effective cut of ~£1bn, risks undermining public and private sector confidence in government commitments to R&D.
  • Government will provide financial support for medical research charities to protect them from the financial impact of the pandemic, as called for by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).
  • Government will review planned reductions to the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget. We share concerns about the negative impact of such cuts on the ability of the UK to contribute resource towards addressing global challenges and undermine our international standing.
We thank the National Academies, Wellcome, Royal Society of Biology and both the Lords and Commons Science & Technology Select Committees for their continued advocacy on these matters:

National Academics – Letter to the Foreign Secretary – 4 December 2020
National Academies – Letter to the Chancellor – 2 March 2021
Wellcome – ‘Science superpower’ ambitions risk being undermined by lack of investment
The Royal Society - The Government’s actions undermine its ambition for the UK to be a science superpower
House of Commons Science and Technology Committee – Letter to the Prime Minister – 23 March 2021
Royal Society of Biology – Letter to the Prime Minister – 25 March 2021
House of Lords Science and Technology Committee – Letter to the Chancellor – 25 March 2021