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UK Spares Research

The UK government has spared its science budget for coming fiscal year from budget cuts that many had feared, while many other areas funded by the government, including university education, did not fare as well, Nature reports.

Not only did research funding under the new budget plan receive a small boost for the 2015/2016 fiscal year to £4.69 billion ($7.79 billion), an increase of £115 million, it also was guaranteed to be protected from pilfering for other agencies through a 'ring-fence' measure.

The UK funds the life sciences, biomedical, agricultural,
engineering, and other research areas through the Department of Business, Innovation, and Skills, which provides budgets for its group of national Research Councils, which then dole out the funding through their grant programs.

Biomedical and life sciences research programs are supported mainly through two of these Research Councils, the Medical Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Under the new budget, the MRC will receive£580.3 million for research funding, which is ring-fenced, and £36 million for capital expenditures, while the BBSRC will receive £351.2 million in research funding and £71 million for capital projects.

The Campaign for Science and Engineering said this week it was "delighted" by the small increase, which shows a "commitment" to science funding as a priority while other government areas are seeing cuts.

CaSE Director Sarah Main notes that protecting science funding was no easy task, as in this spending plan over half of the UK's government departments face cuts of five percent, and many up to 10 percent.