The Royal Society responds to the Budget 2018

29 October 2018

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said:

“The Royal Society welcomes the Chancellor’s recognition that ideas can shape the world and play a key role in solving the productivity challenge. The Government’s continued commitment to investing in research and development (R&D) will be essential for the continued growth of our knowledge-based economy.

“The Government has committed to reaching 2.4% of GDP invested into R&D by 2027, but this Budget does not provide any more clarity on how it is going to get there. In particular, there is no commitment on what fraction of the 2.4% will come from government spending1.

“Scientific research needs sustained, significant funding with long-term commitments. Leaving the EU without a deal could significantly undermine this, damaging UK research2. Therefore, in order to maintain the stated goals of an increase in spending to 2.4% of GDP, the government will also need to make a commitment to restore any lost EU funding in its entirety3.

“The government now needs to negotiate the best possible deal for UK and EU scientists, including fulfilling the Prime Minister’s commitment to seek the closest possible association with Horizon Europe, the European Union’s next research funding programme, and allocating money to do this in the Chancellor’s upcoming Spending Review.

“This will help achieve the Government’s ambition to be the most innovative country in the world and send a message that the UK is the place to come and do science."

1. In last year’s budget the government committed to invest £7bn in R&D through the National productivity investment fund, between 2017-18 and 2021-22. Whilst this year’s budget extends the NPIF to 2023-24 with additional funding, no additional funding has been allocated to R&D beyond 2022. The government is developing a roadmap for delivering on the 2.4% target. An interim publication is expected this autumn, with the roadmap following in 2019.

2. In a no deal scenario, the UK could lose access to over £1 billion a year in EU research funding. Even with the UK government’s guarantees, UK-based researchers and SMEs will lose access to around half a billion a year in research funding, having an immediate impact on research underway in the UK. It could take years to develop alternatives, meaning that valuable research could be stopped in its tracks. Data available here

3. Philip Hammond confirmed in December 2016 that R&D funding through NPIF is additional to any money required to cover a potential loss of EU research funding post Brexit