Budget response: More a nudge than a catalyst to science superpower status
The Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget statement once more raised the government's ambition for the UK to be a "science and technology superpower". Our policy teams have been analysing the speech and identified a number of points of interest to the chemical sciences community.
Tanya Sheridan, Royal Society of Chemistry Head of Policy and Evidence said: Today’s budget was more of a nudge than a catalyst to science superpower status. We welcome enhanced R&D tax credits for research-intensive companies and the planned Investment Zones and investment in energy. However, to become a real science superpower, the UK also needs to tackle the science teacher recruitment and retention crisis and boost international partnerships through association to Horizon Europe.
"We have long highlighted the contribution of deep tech SMEs all around the country, not just in the Golden Triangle, working on transformative chemical technologies. It is vital to boost SME research ecosystems in the chosen investment zones, to unleash chemistry's contribution to economic growth, better health and environmental sustainability.
"Committing £20bn to carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) is an important step towards a future net zero UK that must be delivered swiftly enough to achieve the intended 20-30 Mt CO2 storage by 2030. CCUS will contribute to decarbonising industry, the power sector and chemical feedstocks that make up everyday consumer products. The chemical science community and its innovative UK companies will be vital for delivering CCUS, nuclear and energy storage technologies.
"These technologies will increase the requirement for non-renewable resources such as critical minerals so need to be accompanied by a shift to a circular economy that prevents their loss and reduces the energy requirements and environmental impacts of their extraction and processing.
"The science community is disappointed by the loss of £1.6bn previously earmarked for Horizon Europe association or alternative research and innovation investment. We renew our call on the UK Government and the European Commission to rapidly conclude the UK’s association to Horizon Europe.
"It's also disappointing to hear nothing on new measures to address the recruitment and retention crisis in teaching. Teacher supply and ongoing professional development should be a priority to ensure everyone has access to a high quality, inspiring chemistry education along with the life and career opportunities that supports."