Budget fillip lays fears of cut to rest

March 30, 2007

Fears of a second £100 million raid on research council savings were laid to rest this week in the wake of the Budget boost for science, writes Anthea Lipsett.

Academics were worried that the Department of Trade and Industry would take the remaining £100 million in the research councils' end-of-year flexibility fund on top of the £68 million it cut in February.

But last week's Budget announced a 2.5 per cent boost to funding for education and research, ahead of the Comprehensive Spending Review, which means an increase from £3.383 billion in 2007-08 to £3.971 billion by 2010-11.

And as part of the Budget settlement, the Treasury has confirmed that the research councils can draw down the saved money in 2007-08, meaning it is safe. The research councils said this would reduce uncertainty in the short term and enable them to meet commitments.

Ian Diamond, chair of Research Councils UK, said: "Academics should have been worried about the £68 million, but this is really great news and they don't need to worry any more. It was a splendid settlement, and we are moving forward."

The Arts and Humanities Research Council has said it will take £2 million from its Research Leave Scheme to cope with the recent £5.3 million cut to its budget.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will not award £14 million in research grants it planned to support in 2007-08.

The remainder of its £29 million cut will come from equipment and administration.

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