“It’s a shame that the protection starts from such a low base,” added Sue Ferns, deputy general secretary, in reference to data showing UK state support for research and development among the lowest in the western world as a percentage of GDP.
Despite this the UK produces some of the highest volumes of research findings in the world, but the Commons science and technology committee warned last week that the UK’s world-class status was under threat if funding wasn’t supported.
Ferns continued: “Past experience shows that departmental science spending often takes the largest cut. We don’t yet have the detail to know whether this is the case – but we do know that there are some fairly substantial cuts in departmental budgets.
“For example, we need to understand the scope of the 17% cut for the Department for Business and how this relates to the BIS2020 project on departmental reform.
“Similarly, although the recommendations of last week’s report by Paul Nurse on the research councils appear to be relatively good news, including for inter-disciplinary science, this will not be the case if they are implemented under severe budgetary constraint.”