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Committee Chair contests Budget commitment

22 November 2017

Science and Technology Committee Chair contests Budget commitment to significantly increase Research and Development spending.

New target is only £0.5 billion greater than current commitment, with an extra year to reach it.

The Government has stated that R&D spend will be £12.5bn in 2021-22— which it says represents a further £2.3 billion of spending. Current plans for 2020-21, however, have already committed to 12bn of spending after an increase announced at the 2016 Autumn Statement.

The Science and Technology Committee wrote to the Chancellor on 14 November seeking an increase:

"The Government should use the Budget to signal that a further science budget uplift will be needed over the next 10 years of at least a further £2.4bn [on top of the 2016 Autumn Statement rise] to help deliver its 2.4% of GDP target."

Norman Lamb MP, Chair, said: 

“Like many, we cautiously welcomed the initial signs that the Government had committed to spending an extra £2.3 billion by the end of this Parliament in 2021-22. On closer inspection, however, it becomes clear that R&D spend will actually only rise by £0.5bn against current commitments for the year before [2020-21].

“We wrote to the Chancellor last week to request an increase in the UK's spend on research and development by at least 2.4 billion a year within the next ten years. This would allow the UK to match the average OECD R&D investment by 2027 – a manifesto pledge that was also confirmed by Chancellor today. The increase announced today will mean that a further £1.9bn will need to be added to the annual science budget between 2022 and 2027.

“At a time of uncertainty when the science community is looking to the Government for leadership, the Chancellor's plans are a tentative move in the right direction, but much more is needed. The science and research sector needs clarity, and increasing innovation in the UK should be a top priority as we look to counter static productivity growth and doubts about continued EU research collaboration and its funding. Now more than ever, the UK must show itself as a global leader in science and technology.”

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