RSC seeks clarity on science in budget

25 March 2010

The Chancellor's Budget today shows an acknowledgement of science's importance to the UK economy but does not back it up with the required funding, the Royal Society of Chemistry said today. 

Alistair Darling delivered his Budget speech to the House of Commons this afternoon, promising speedy reduction of national debt through three key areas: taxes, cuts in public spending, and economic growth. 

The Budget offers small businesses a 2.5bn package to boost skills and innovation, and doubles capital gains tax relief for entrepreneurs - both offering good prospects for spin-out companies. 

A newly-announced 270m Modernisation Fund will create 20,000 new university places in 'key subjects', the Budget report states. 

Professor Jim Iley, the RSC's Director of Science, Education and Industry, said today: "The Modernisation Fund to enable additional university places is to be welcomed, but given the government's recognition of the contribution of STEM subjects to the UK economy it is essential that the Fund creates significant extra places in these subjects." 

Darling backed up the Modernisation Fund saying its cost would "be repaid many times over" by the better skilled workforce. The Budget is announced weeks after the Higher Education Funding Council for England confirmed a significant reduction of higher education teaching funding. 

The RSC has calculated that 2.3bn extra funding will be needed over the next three years to ensure the UK's position as a world-leading chemistry research base is maintained, paying for better school laboratories, more equipment for existing labs, and more funding for high quality teaching and research. 

"Alistair Darling seems to recognise the importance of science and a highly-skilled workforce to Britain's economic recovery - why doesn't he provide the appropriate level of funding needed to maintain the UK at the forefront of worldwide chemical sciences innovation, which is vital to the regeneration of the UK economy?", asked Professor Iley.

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