The UK government needs to commit to spend more on scientific research and development over the long term if we have any chance of retaining our ‘superpower’ status amongst our competitors around the world, according to a report published by the House of Commons science and technology committee this month.
With the government’s spending review being due later this month, many scientists around the country are concerned that the science budget is going to suffer, and this report insists we will fall behind if this happens. The report states that cuts in spending “put UK competitiveness, productivity and high-value jobs at risk”, and that more needs to be done for us to reach the EU target of 3% of the GDP going into science R&D investment.
The future is looking very uncertain at the moment, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer convincing the Treasury, local governments and departments of transport and environment to agree to 30% budget cuts, and the fear is science funding will be the next in the firing line.
The UK has been holding its own in recent times, but if funding is cut, this may soon change, and we will begin to lose our credibility as a centre of technology and innovation if this happens. We have so much potential for great scientific discovery and development, and it could be catastrophic if funding causes this to crumble. It’s not only in our interest as scientists to protect R&D in this country, but as members of the British public. I hope George Osborne thinks very carefully before he decides the fate of science funding for all of us.