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Government announcement on strategic direction for UK science a welcome step

21 Jun 2021

CaSE has responded to plans by the Prime Minister to establish a new ministerial council and science office.

A new National Science and Technology Council will be established and chaired by the Prime Minister, while a new Office for Science and Technology Strategy will be headed by the Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and based in the Cabinet Office.

Commenting on the announcement, CaSE Executive Director Professor Sarah Main said:

“The Prime Minister’s personal authority in advancing UK science is powerful and may well be the stimulus needed to create coherent cross-departmental action in pursuit of solutions to long-standing problems such as cancer and climate change. Government can and should make use of the UK’s considerable science capability to deliver benefit for the public and I welcome the intent to energise the whole of Government announced today. 

“It is vital that discovery science, undirected by Government, remains part of a broad and strong UK science base, so that the UK has the capability to respond to strategic impetus from Government. So we’ll be looking to the next Spending Review to see how Government’s rising investment to £22bn a year on R&D by 2024/25 is deployed in supporting breadth and capability across the science base as well as meeting strategic goals. Key to this success will be seamless working between the new body and other coordinating forces in the sector, such as the Government Office for Science, UK Research and Innovation, and business and academic bodies.”

CaSE’s Executive Director was interviewd by ITV News on the announcement, alongside the Prime Minister.

CaSE’s 2017 report on Improving use of evidence in UK government policymaking made a number of recommendations, including that cross-cutting government agencies such as the Government Chief Scientific Adviser’s Office and GO-Science should be located in the Cabinet Office.