Government urged to protect the UK science budget

Almost 200 organisations from across the life sciences, including the Wellcome Trust, have called on the UK government to protect the science budget in its forthcoming Spending Review.

In a letter published in the Financial Times today, the organisations, comprising leading investors, companies and charities, state that their investment in the UK depends on the Government's commitment to science.

They argue that long-term public funding provides the foundation for the country’s world-leading multidisciplinary research base, delivers wide-ranging improvements to people’s health and wellbeing, underpins the development and retention of a highly skilled workforce, and drives economic growth and productivity.

The text of the letter can be read here. The full list of signatories can be seen in the Notes for editors.

Sirs,

The UK is a scientific superpower. Strong, predictable and long-term Government investment provides the foundation for this country’s outstanding, multidisciplinary research base. Diverse public funding is critical to maintain the UK’s world-leading position, and improve the health and wellbeing of the population. It drives economic growth and attracts a wealth of global corporations, investors and charities.

As representatives of almost 200 organisations from across the life sciences, we urge the Government to reinforce its commitment to science in the 2015 Spending Review and cement the UK as a global leader in research and development. Our investment and support depend upon it.

The UK pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology and diagnostics sectors generate an estimated annual turnover of £56 billion, and employ 183,000 people, even more in supply chains. Venture capitalists and specialist investors back early-stage innovative companies as they grow and flourish. Medical research charities attract support from millions of individual donors, investing £1.3 billion a year and funding the salaries of over 12,000 researchers in universities and institutes. None of this would be possible without strong Government support.

Securing public funding for cross-disciplinary research will deliver benefits to patients, increase private sector confidence, and deliver productivity gains, not least through the development and retention of a highly skilled workforce. In recent years, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has made it clear that science is a personal priority. We ask the Government to deliver its vision for this area by protecting its essential investment.