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Dozens of researchers call for financial support for charities

Letter to prime minister says charities’ incomes have been ‘decimated’ by the Covid-19 pandemic

Researchers are piling pressure on the government to provide urgent financial support to the UK’s beleaguered medical research charities in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

In an open letter published on 7 July, more than 60 cardiovascular disease and cancer researchers urge prime minister Boris Johnson to take “swift action to invest in a Life Sciences-Charity Partnership Fund to protect the vital and unique contribution charity-funded biomedical research makes to the UK’s R&D ecosystem and the wider economy”.

This co-investment scheme, first proposed in June by the Association of Medical Research Charities, would provide a level of matched funding for charity research over the next three to five years.

According to the scientists, both the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK have had their incomes “decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“This will have a catastrophic and long-lasting impact on both cardiovascular and cancer research in the UK, but also on the broader R&D sector,” the scientists write.

“CRUK could be forced to cut £150 million per year from its research funding, and the BHF anticipates having to cut its research spend by half this year from £100m to around £50m. This means a significantly lower investment in life-saving high-quality research, in skills and in infrastructure.”

While welcoming the government’s latest support package for research, they fear it will “not go far enough to plug the funding gap charities are facing”.

“Without your support, the UK risks a slide backwards, undermining decades of pioneering and life-saving research, as well as losing a generation of new researchers and a major decline in our nation’s international competitiveness in life sciences that we have worked so hard to achieve,” they write.

“We ask that you reaffirm your commitment to science and research by investing to support medical research charities in this time of need.”

Research Professional News has approached Number 10 and the Treasury for comment.