UK slashing capital spending in science and engineering by 41%

George Osborne

According to reports, over and above the 10 percent real-terms cut announced by the Chancellor George Osborne during the scientific research spending review in October, the UK science funding bodies may have to absorb an additional 41 percent cut to their capital expenditure.

The capital spending in science and engineering largely pertains to the expenditure on building, maintenance and equipment.

The news about the capital-spending cuts – which implicitly hints at a return to the “dark days of the 1980s”, when laboratories were starved of investment - came during the recent announcement by Science Minister David Willetts about the plans for allocating science budget to research funding bodies.

Willetts said that the government is “committed to efficiency, prioritisation and reform,” and added: “We shall delay capital investment to maximise investment in research projects and in people undertaking research.”

Despite the capital spending cuts, the government will still shield medical research and some prestige projects, including the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire as well as the proposed UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation in London.

However, noting that the shortfall in capital expenditure will have to be found from other sources such as research grants, Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engeering (Case), told BBC News: “A lot of so-called 'capital' expenditure' can't be cut back on - it includes maintenance, and other long-term commitments. The money will simply have to come from scientific grant budgets.”

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