Spending Round 2013 – Good result for business, science, trade and investment
I’m finding it hard to be positive at the moment. Today’s announcement that, in future, the unemployed will be left without financial support for seven days, leaving many of them desperate and vulnerable, is awful news. But I have to do my job, so I welcome the outcome of the Spending Round relating to science funding, trade and investment.
Today the Government maintained resource funding for science in cash terms at £4.6 billion in 2015-16, while also providing additional funds of £185m for the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to support innovation, including Catapult Centres and the Biomedical Catalyst. It increased science capital funding in real terms from £0.6bn in 2012-13 to £1.1 billion in 2015-16, and in line with inflation to 2016-17. It set an overall science capital budget which grows in line with inflation each year to 2020-21 and commits to funding high priority projects, including the Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine (SABRE) and a new supercomputer for the Met Office.
Today’s announcement also sought to strengthen trade and investment links with China and gave the Foreign and Commonwealth Office a further £70m to expand their work with UKTI to put in place the right political, policy and regulatory conditions to promote growth overseas and create opportunities for the UK. The Spending Review doesn’t go into too much detail about how that will be achieved, but on the surface it looks like good news. I intend to write more about China in the coming months and rather than seeing China as all threat and no opportunity, it is important to think about how the huge Chinese market can provide growth and jobs for British firms. To that end, I think today’s announcement on trade and investment should be welcomed.