Science is Vital, a grassroots organisation composed of scientists and supporters of science and research in Britain, is warning of “grave concerns” that the government is planning huge cuts to the science budget. Ominously, the business secretary is said to have hired “consultants” to suggest where the axe might fall.
Back in 2010 the organisation and others fought off an attempt to cut the science budget, succeeding in getting a ring-fenced budget for research – but with no increases for inflation the value of the budget has declined.
With value of that settlement eroded through inflation, public investment in science has declined to 0.44 per cent of GDP, “the lowest of any G8 country in the last 20 years,” says Science is Vital.
But even though the government says Britain is pulling out of recession, there are no plans to reverse the decline in the R&D budget. Quite the opposite: George Osborne and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have told Britain’s research councils to model cuts of 25 to 40 per cent!
In response, Science is Vital is campaigning for a real rise in science funding, starting with a rally at Conway Hall, London, on 26 October, along with events in Glasgow, York, Newcastle, Swansea, Southampton, Leeds and Bath – a list that is set to grow.
• A different version of this article is on the website at Campaign to fight new threat to research funding