News / Slider / February 11, 2016

Nicola questions Business Secretary on Science Spending

The Science and Technology Select Committee, of which Nicola is Chair, called the Business Secretary, Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, before the Committee following the November Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review in order to question him on the long-term roadmap recommended by the Committee for Science Spending (link).

The session covered components of the Budget, including the new Global Challenges Fund, designed to ensure UK science takes the lead in addressing the problems faced by developing countries, innovation funding, changes to the ‘dual support’ research funding system for universities, and reforms to research council structures following Sir Paul Nurse’s review.

To watch the session back as it happened, click here.

At the beginning of November, the Science and Technology published their first report calling on the Government to increase science funding to keep up with competitors. The Chancellor announced in his Comprehensive Spending Review that the Government will be increasing the science budget in real terms up to £4.7 billion over the course of this Parliament, and so now the Committee has taken the opportunity to ask the Minister how this will work in practice, in particular Nicola has asked if there had been a ‘tucking in’ of the Budget i.e. whether any organisations or spending lines had been added.

The Business Secretary confirmed that the Budget was being ring-fenced in real terms with no other initiatives included. He also confirmed that the Global Challenges Fund will fully respect the Haldane principle. Sir Paul Nurse’s review, published in November, recommended the creation of an overarching body to incorporate the research councils, the Business Secretary explained that the Government will be responding to the Dowling, Nurse and BIS Green Paper on Higher Education funding in one single report.

The Government has also now issued its response to the Committee’s report, available here. In addition, more details of the science budget are due to be released in mid-February.

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