Response to Autumn Statement
Royal Society of Chemistry Head of Policy and Evidence, Tanya Sheridan, responds to Jeremy Hunt's first Autumn Statement as chancellor, in which he said he would deliver a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and "rebuild our economy".
On Research & Development investment
We are pleased that the Government has recognised UK science has a vital role to play in our economic recovery and the net zero transition. Commitments to protect the £20bn investment by 2024-25 are good news.
The chemical sciences workforce contributes an average of £83billion to the UK economy every year, so this is a critical commitment to retain talent and ideas within the UK economy and support future economic growth. Given this, Government plans for R&D investment to reach £22bn by 2026-27 must not fall by the wayside.
Despite the Chancellor including innovation as one of three 'growth priorities', changes to R&D tax credits could impact the SMEs developing new technologies that will solve global challenges and bring green economic growth. This is a concern and we will monitor carefully.
Whilst the Chancellor’s announcement provides a welcome increase to the education budget, this still represents a real-terms cut, which is a concern for the longer-term future of the science sector and for supporting and retaining inspirational teachers and technicians. Another significant risk is of cuts to the resources needed to ensure practical work can be delivered effectively in schools. Access to high quality practical science is essential in training the future generations of scientists who will maintain our position as a science superpower and deliver the UK’s net zero transition.