Bumper budget goes to the OST

July 2, 1999

The Office of Science and Technology will get a huge cash injection, the government revealed this week, writes Alison Goddard.

The OST, which is part of the Department of Trade and Industry, will see its budget more than quadruple in real terms to Pounds 187 million in 2001-02, similar to that of a small research council independent of spending by the research councils.

Last year's comprehensive spending review resulted in an extra Pounds 1.6 billion in real terms for science over the next three years. Although all the research councils will get more money for research, except for the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council, the total science spend is static.

The big increase in total science spending is mostly accounted for by the burgeoning OST budget.

According to the DTI: "OST expenditure is mostly in support of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. However, there is no breakdown of how the extra money is going to be spent at the moment."

The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering's budget for the next three years show only moderate increases.

The same document, The Forward Look 1999, revealed that the DTI's innovation budget will rise by 20 per cent over three years to nearly Pounds 230 million. The extra money will promote collaboration between industry and science through a Pounds 9 million expansion of the Teaching Company Scheme, up to four new Faraday partnerships a year for four years, and Pounds 26 million for the Smart scheme to encourage small businesses to turn ideas into products.

Other surprise winners included the Ministry of Defence's development budget, which is set to rise by Pounds 383 million in real terms to Pounds 2.1 billion in 2001-02. However, the MoD's research budget will be slashed by almost Pounds 100 million in real terms to Pounds 496 million.

The Department for Education and Employment's research budget will go up by Pounds 8 million in real terms to Pounds 110 million. The lion's share of this money will be spent on national vocational education and training.

Science spending at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will fall by Pounds 11 million in real terms to Pounds 1 million in 2001-02 and the National Health Service's science budget will fall by Pounds 28 million to Pounds 363 million.

The higher education funding councils will get an extra Pounds 141 million in real terms, taking their science spend to Pounds 1.2 billion in 2001-02. This money has already been earmarked for refurbishing decaying laboratories and other infrastructure needs.

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