The government’s decision to cut investment in research will put the UK’s position as a world leading research base at risk, a report commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has found today.
The report says the UK’s leadership position is “threatened by its declining share of researchers globally, and by its declining share of global spending on research”.
It goes on to say that “inability to sustain R&D spending at levels comparable to the global average may also have consequences for the UK’s future research performance relative to other countries.”
Commenting, Shadow Minister for Innovation and Science Chi Onwurah MP said:
“Britain is a world leader in science and research, and this report is yet more proof of that. It shows that 13 years of increased investment in science and research has given us a real competitive edge in the global economy. Yet the Government’s own assessment now admits that we are putting that position at risk if we do not keep up with our rivals.
“Our global competitors and emerging science nations – even those with austerity programmes – are increasing their investment in science and research. So why has this Government cut 60% of capital funding and 10% of programme funding for British science?
“Without a long term plan, the science community and private sector investors in research have no certainty as to the Government’s long term commitment to science. We cannot afford to be complacent. This Government’s lack of commitment to science and research is putting our world leading position in science at risk.”
The Government’s own Chief Scientific Adviser Sir John Beddington and the Campaign for Science and Engineering have called for a long term investment strategy for science and research. This is vital if the Government is serious about rebalancing the economy and creating more high value and highly skilled jobs. Labour has called for the ten year funding plan, abandoned by the Coalition in the spending review, to be reinstated. Without a long term plan, the science community and private sector investors in research have no certainty as to the Government’s long term commitment to science.
At the same time as cutting science spend the Government is putting up a Global ‘scientists not welcome here ’ sign with its politically motivated migration reforms. Yet 40% of the UK’s scientific citations are the result of international collaboration.
The report examined the performance of UK research from 2006 to 2010, when UK investment in science and research was rising. Investment in science and research is now set to fall over the next 4 years, with the Government scrapping Labour’s long term strategic funding plan. Cutting science can negatively impact GDP by a factor of ten.
Following the spending review last year, a report by Imperial College found that cutting investment in research negatively affects GDP by a factor of ten: a cut in £1bn a year to science spending will result in a £10bn drop in GDP, because of the economic contribution, and associated private sector leverage, made by publicly funded science in the UK.