Given the tight financial circumstances, today's announcement was a step in the right direction for UK science and innovation, bringing benefit to the whole country.
The Chancellor has today published the Government's 2020 Spending Review, including £14.6 billion in R&D in 2021-22. This follows on from March's Spring Budget, in which the Government announced plans to increase public R&D investment to £22 billion per year by 2024-25.
Commenting on the Spending Review, CaSE Assistant Director Director Daniel Rathbone said:
"The exciting recent announcements about Covid vaccines and treatments underline the importance of a strong and thriving research base in the UK and continuing to invest in R&D will help drive the economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic. Given the current economic circumstances, I am really pleased to see the increased investment in R&D in 2021-22 announced by the Chancellor, keeping us on track to reach the Government's goal of £22bn invested in R&D by 2024-25."
The Spending Review also set out a multi-year settlement for UK Research and Innovation and the National Academies core research budget. This will grow by more than £400 million on average per year until 2023-24.
Commenting on the multi-year settlement for UKRI, CaSE Assistant Director Director Daniel Rathbone said:
"The Government has also provided a multi-year settlement for UKRI core research budgets, with substantial increases over the next three years. This is really positive news because it will allow UKRI to make the most of this investment, protecting and growing the UK's world class research base. I hope this will be followed by multi-year settlements for R&D across Government, when the economic circumstances allow."
Commenting on the 'levelling-up agenda', CaSE Assistant Director Director Daniel Rathbone said:
"A big portion of the spending review was focussed on the Government's 'levelling-up' agenda with announcements on the Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and a new 'levelling-up' fund. There is a real opportunity for investment in R&D and innovative businesses to drive economic growth and development across all parts of the UK. To fully realise these opportunities that growing R&D provides for 'levelling-up' the Government needs to do more to connect its policy development in these two areas."
Investment announced in the Spending Review include:
Overall R&D investment
The Government has announced that it will be investing £14.6 billion in R&D in 2021-22. Other announcements include:
- A multi-year settlement for UK Research and Innovation and the National Academies core research budget. This will grow by more than £400 million on average per year until 2023-24.
- At least £490 million in 2021-22 for Innovate UK core programmes and infrastructure
- £350 million to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). This includes the first £50 million towards an £800 million investment by 2024-25 in high-risk, high-payoff research.
- On Covid-19, £128 million in 2021-22 to support vaccine R&D in the UK, including for clinical trials and to build UK manufacturing capacity
- Up to £17 million in 2021-22 to establish a new unit and fund to help ensure that public sector knowledge assets (R&D, intellectual property and other intangible assets) translate into new high-tech jobs, businesses and economic growth
- Increased support for net zero innovation, including £200 million in 2021-22 for the Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, to develop new decarbonisation solutions and accelerate near-to market low-carbon energy innovations.
- Additional funding of over £24 billion in cash terms over four years, includes £6.6 billion of R&D. Although this settlement means that the overall Defence budget will grow at an average of 1.8 per cent per year in real terms from 2019- 20 to 2024-25, R&D budgets remain broadly flat compared to the previous period (notwithstanding future announcements on R&D spending towards defence).
- Despite the uncertainty surrounding the UK's participation in Horizon 2020, the government has re-committed 'to maintaining and enhancing the UK’s position at the forefront of global science collaboration'.
- £559 million to support the modernisation of technology across the health and care system, including the NHS’s Artificial Intelligence Lab.
- As announced earlier in the year, the Government is establishing a Global Talent Route to better attract scientists, researchers and innovators.
- You can read CaSE's response to the Government's announcement in June to increase the science budget to £10.4 billion for the year 2020-21.
- You can read CaSE's response to the March's Spring Budget, in which the Government announced plans to increase public R&D investment to £22 billion per year by 2024-25.
- On investment, CaSE published its report, 'Building on Scientific Strength; The Next Decade of R&D Investment', on how the Government can stimulate a rise in the UK’s research intensity and meet the goal of investing 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027.
- On immigration policy, read CaSE's response to the government's announcement of a global fast-track visa scheme back in January.