Science Budget to be Frozen, whilst Defra to face cuts of 8% per year

Chancellor George Osborne has just finished delivering the Comprehensive Spending Review to the House of Commons, which outlines Departmental spending from 2011/12 to 2014/15. Amongst the Departmental settlements revealed by the Chancellor was the news that the science budget is to be frozen in real terms for the next four years, at £4.6 billion per year. The Chancellor recognised explicitly the contribution which the science base makes to economic growth in the UK, stating that ‘science is vital to economic success’. The Chancellor did however state that, building on the Wakeham Review, £384 million can be found through efficiencies. The Chancellor said that if this was found, he was confident that the science base could grow in the years to come.

Overall, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills will need to find savings in its resource budget of 7.1% a year, the least it was asked by the Government to model, whilst administrative costs will be cut by £400 million . The Department for Energy and Climate Change will need to save 5% a year, but there will be an increase in capital, mostly because of the legacy of nuclear decommissioning, which the Government must fund. There will be £1 billion for a carbon capture and storage demonstration project , £200 million for the development of renewable energy and £1 billion for a green investment bank, with the Government hoping to find more to finance this through asset sales.

Defra must make savings of 8% per year, which equates to cuts of almost a third over the spending review period. Additional funds will however be made available to support major improvements in flood defences and coastal zone management.

All Government Departments have been instructed to cut administrative costs by a third, leading to £6 billion in savings from central Government back office function.

Next month all Departments will publish their reform plans, setting out how they will allocate their reduced budgets for the spending review period.