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Last Updated: Monday, 12 July, 2004, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Ten-year science funding outlined
Scientist in the lab, Eyewire/BBC
The framework has been broadly welcomed by the science community
Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced 1bn extra funding for UK science in his comprehensive spending review, outlined on Monday in the Commons.

Investment in science will rise from 3.9bn this year to 5bn by 2008.

Mr Brown said this amounted to a 5.8% annual real-terms increase, doubling the investment in science since 1997.

The new money will go on science teaching, support for graduates and for link-ups with business, and is part of a 10-year strategy for science.

"The future of the British economy depends on the future of British science," he told MPs.

"The 10-year framework for science that we are publishing today is designed to make Britain the best and most attractive location for science and innovation in the coming years."

Matching funds

The Chancellor called the investment the largest sustained increase in science spending for a generation.

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The new money has been facilitated by the abolition of civil service jobs at the Department of Trade and Industry and its agencies.

"We are able to announce substantial new funding to support science teaching in our schools, improve salaries for science graduates and engineers and support technology transfer and business link-ups as well as pure research," Mr Brown added.

The Chancellor also announced that the Wellcome Trust was setting up a partnership with the government to match its commitment, investing over 1.5bn more in UK research over 5 years.

He added that his objective was to raise overall spending on private and public research and development from 1.9% of national income (which he admitted was amongst the lowest of the country's main competitors) to 2.5% of national income by 2014.

"It would be the best guarantee of a successful economic future for this country," he said.

'Welcome decision'

Dr Peter Cotgreave, director of campaigning group Save British Science said the plans were "good news" but he warned: "At first sight, there does not appear to be any substantial new money to recruit and retain the best people, which means we are in danger of having fantastically well-equipped labs but not being able to attract the world-class people to work in them."

The 10-year strategy resolves to make the UK second only to the US on research excellence, closing the gap with Germany and France which currently lead Britain.

But under the new framework, spending on research and development as a percentage of national income by 2014 would only equal Germany's current level of investment.

Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, commented: "The spending review will give added strength to partnership arrangements that exist between government and charities.

"It will allow continued support for research and innovation and will create the right framework for UK science to retain its premier position at the forefront of development."

Stephen Cox, executive secretary of the Royal Society broadly welcomed the plans but added: "We note that there will be no increase in real terms in the funding available for new science projects, except perhaps for the reintroduction of a flexibility fund for the director general of research councils of 35m.

"The Royal Society will therefore be scrutinising the arrangements for distributing this money and the type of initiatives that will benefit from this fund."

Professor Ian Diamond, speaking on behalf of Research Councils UK, said the new framework, "balances the need for money for new front-line research projects, with the need to ensure that our research base is sustainable".

Dr Julia King, chief executive of the Institute of Physics, said that there was still a severe shortage of specialised physics teachers.

She added that the government should also reconsider the proposed allocation of Hefce (Higher Education Funding Council for England) teaching funds planned for 2004/05.

"Most Physics departments are already struggling financially with the current model; the new proposals would mean a further 1% cut in funding for university physics teaching," she explained.

"If the Government is serious about its commitment to world-class research, more money needs to go into physics departments."


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