Azara Blog: DTI reducing amount of money given to UK research councils

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Date published: 2007/02/22

The BBC says:

UK science has become an unexpected victim of the Rover collapse as funds used to soften the impact of the failure were clawed back from research.

The Department for Trade and Industry said it faced financial pressures that required it to re-balance its spending.

Ongoing costs related to the loss of the Rover car company and the rescue package put together for British Energy were cited as causes for the shortfall.

It means £68m given to the UK Research Councils by the DTI will be taken back.

"The sum involved amounts to less than 1% of nearly £10bn awarded by government to science over the current three-year spending period," explained a spokesman.

"The science budget has more than doubled since 1997 to £3.4bn a year and, even in the light of this decision, it continues to rise year on year."

The money will come out of the pot the Research Councils use to buffer their own spending at the end of the year - money which can be carried forward if unspent.

The reality, however, said several senior scientists, was that such money is always spent eventually, and the claw-back would have real, negative results.

A bit of a disaster, and the consequence is that some jobs will go. The quote of less than 1% over three years is disingenuous, you might as well compare the figure over a hundred years. The point is the money has to be clawed back this year, and the real fall is 2% this year, which still sounds small, but is significant when you have a tight budget, as all research councils do.

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