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Treasury urged to unfreeze core R&D budgets

Chancellor Philip Hammond is under pressure to raise research councils’ core budgets, which have been frozen since 2010, and reverse cuts to government departments’ R&D spending when he presents the UK’s annual budget on 29 October.

Research Fortnight understands that the budget could contain details about the first round of the Strategic Priorities Fund, which supports government priorities through R&D. It is also expected to reveal how much the third wave of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, due to run throughout 2019, will receive.

Inflation has eaten into research councils’ core budgets, which support bottom-up, investigator-led research. In response, the councils have turned to pitching fiercely for projects in their disciplines to be funded through the ISCF and other challenge-led schemes managed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The vast majority of the extra R&D funding announced by the government in the past two years has gone to these programmes.

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