Capital spending on science cut by 40%

Severe cuts in capital funding for the seven bodies which distribute taxpayers' money to scientists will create "particularly significant challenges", their representative council said today.





At the same time, the research councils breathed a collective sigh of relief at not having suffered more.



Science emerged from October's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) with its £4.6 billion budget ring-fenced for the next four years.



Taking inflation into account, this amounts to a cut of about 10% by 2014-15 which, it was hoped, could be offset by "efficiency savings".



However, the CSR settlement did not cover capital spending on buildings, equipment and maintenance, and today, as the Government announced individual budget allocations for the research councils, it was revealed that science infrastructure funding will be slashed by around 40%.



Professor Alan Thorpe, chair of Research Councils UK, which represents the funding bodies, said: "The cut to the capital budgets of the research councils will present particularly significant challenges going forward but we have a good foundation, and excellence with impact will remain at the core of what we do."



He said it was encouraging the research council allocations had "fared so well" given the tough economic climate.



"This allocation as part of the 2010 spending review confirms the value that Government has placed on research investment for the UK," Prof Thorpe added.



Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said the budget announcements confirmed that British science and engineering faced four "very tricky years".



Although capital spending on research was being hit less hard than expected, the cuts still amounted to a "dramatic reduction" in investment in equipment and facilities.



This would produce a "big dent in Britain's scientific credentials".



Mr Khan said: "What's especially worrying is that a lot of this capital spending is actually maintenance and other long-term commitments, which can't simply be stopped. The money will have to come from other sources, including research grants, instead.



"There are going to be a lot of very difficult decisions which have to be made over the coming years."



Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said applying the latest inflation forecasts showed that science capital funding could be cut by almost half in real terms.



"Today's announcement confirms that the Government is planning to slash capital expenditure for research," said Mr Ward. "It looks like we could be returning to the dark days of the 1980s and early 1990s when researchers were forced to work in laboratories and facilities that were starved of investment.



"World-class researchers need world-class facilities and infrastructure if they are to provide the advances in knowledge and innovation that drive our economy."



Factoring in the reduced capital expenditure, publicly funded research as a whole will lose around 14% in real terms rather than the 10% projected by the CSR, he said.



While other research councils will see their resource allocations cut by around 3% by 2014-15, the Medical Research Council's share of the pot is being increased by around 5%.



Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "Our world-class science and research base is a key national asset, critical to promoting economic growth and to improving all our lives.



"This is a strong settlement which demonstrates the importance the coalition Government places on science and research."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?