The HM Treasury has announced that the DTI is to have a reduction in budget of £68 million – and some of that will come out of money allocated to the Research Councils.
The revisions where set out in the Traesury’s Spring Supplementary Statement presented to the House of Commons earlier this month. As one of the actions, the DTI has agreed with Treasury that some funds will need to be found from within the science budget in order to meet financial pressure elsewhere within the DTI.
Speaking on behalf of the Research Councils, Professor Ian Diamond pointed out the disappointment that any shortfalls have been made at the expense of investments in research. He said: “The Research Base provides the intellectual energy to meet the challenges posed by globalisation. While we are satisfied that the Government remains committed to the 10-year science and innovation investment framework, reductions in Research Council budgets will inevitably have an impact on our ability to maintain the quality of the Research Base and to fully realise its benefits.”
Research Councils fund projects over many years with large proportions of their budgets committed several years in advance – because of this any adjustments in spending could have severe implications for their ability to respond to new challenges.
The revisions will be made from the Council’s End-Year Flexibility (EYF) – a financial system that allows unspent resources to be carried forward. The EYF reductions for each Council are as follows:
Arts and Humanities Research Council – £5.3 million.
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council – £6.7 million.
Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils – £0.5 million.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council – £29.0 million.
Economic and Social Research Council – £3.0 million.
Medical Research Council – £10.7 million.
Natural Environment Research Council – £9.7 million.
Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council – £3.1 million.
The hardest hit will be the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). “This is disappointing following the recent publication of EPSRC’s Strategic Plan which seeks innovative ways to promote research and training of the highest quality in the UK”, said EPSRC’s Interim Chief Executive, Dr Randal Richards. “EPSRC will continue to make the case for sustained increases in science and engineering funding, in line with the Government’s Science and Innovation Investment Framework.”
In a statement, Research Councils UK said: “The Research Councils are considering options and will individually announce them in due course”.