Science and research are vital to our country’s prosperity, security and wellbeing. At a time of tight control over public spending, the Government continue to protect investment and support our world-class research base.
The Government are protecting science resource funding at its current level of £4.7 billion, which will rise in cash terms every year, for the rest of the Parliament. At the same time, we are investing in new scientific infrastructure on a record scale—delivering on the £6.9 billion science capital commitment in our manifesto. The total investment of £26.3 billion between 2016-17 to 2020-21 builds on the protections for the science budget in the last Parliament—meaning a decade of protection for the science budget, and a decade of sustained investment by this Government.
This includes a new £1.5 billion investment over the period 2016-17 to 2020-21 in a new global challenges research fund (GCRF), to ensure UK research takes a leading role in addressing the challenges faced by developing countries. This is a unique opportunity for UK academics to work with partners around the world and at the same time to address some of the biggest challenges of our time.
While we are building new infrastructure, we are also ensuring we get the best return on our investments. Sir Paul Nurse set out his proposals to bring together the seven research councils under the banner of Research UK, and as the Chancellor confirmed in the spending review, the Government will take forward these recommendations subject to Parliament. As such, firm allocations are being provided for 2016-17 to 2017-18; with indicative allocations only for the later years in the SR period, 2018-19 to 2019-20. Allocations will be provided for these years as changes to the research landscape are taken forward.
The allocations made today make clear the Government’s commitment to the dual support system. This system provides stability in the funding underpinning our research base through both prospective competitive grant funding for projects and programmes, alongside a block grant for universities, based on an assessment of the quality of their research. The block grant funding supports universities’ research capability and infrastructure, enabling them to invest strategically and plan ahead; to develop and support excellent researchers; to explore novel curiosity-driven research, respond to emerging priorities and lever funding from other sources. This funding is an important driver of curiosity-driven research, and budgets allocated today show that for every £1 allocated to research councils, its allocation from the research budget increases from 63p as now, to over 65p by the end of the SR period.
We will be publishing further details of these allocations today.
 Includes £1.1 billion spent in 2015-16.