Scientists relieved that budget escapes George Osborne's axe

 

Science Editor

Scientists today welcomed the Government's decision to maintain the science budget at £4.6bn a year and to raise capital funding on scientific research from £0.6bn to £1.1bn in 2015-16, which is to be kept it in line with inflation in the following year.

Sir Paul Nurse, the president of the Royal Society, said that George Osborne has kept his promises about protecting the science budget and investing in research and innovation that is widely seen as critical to Britain's industrial recovery.

"Last year the chancellor came to the Royal Society and gave a speech that put science and innovation at the heart of long-term sustainable economic growth.  He was asked to provide the money to back that up and today he has done that," Sir Paul said yesterday.

"There is a growing consensus across parliament and in the business community that spending on science is an investment in the future. The Government has protected its contribution and we now need to find ways to encourage greater commitment from industry, which is still under-investing in research," he said.

Sir John Tooke, president of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said that he too welcomed the Government's sustained funding of science and the preservation of the research base in a difficult economic climate.

"It is vital to maintain the capacity of our medical research ecosystem to keep pace with other leading scientific nations and to ensure the UK is at the forefront of innovations in healthcare technology and delivery," Sir John said.

"To truly reap the rewards that medical research can bring to the economy, we must all build on this investment to ensure a stable framework for research, innovation and skills in the future," he said.

Professor Lesley Yellowlees, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said that the government has heeded the science community's calls by protecting the science budget in cash terms and returning capital investment to 2010 levels, protected in real terms to 2020.

"The Chancellor's long-term vision is to be applauded. But we need to see more comprehensive forward-thinking if we really want Britain to stay ahead in the global economic race. Over past decades our government's investment in research and development has slid towards the bottom of the international rankings - out of our G8 competitors, only Italy spends less as a proportion of GDP," Professor Yellowlees said.

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