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In the detail

Critical questions remain over how R&D billions will be spent

Smoke, mirrors and last-gasp ‘rabbits’—the theatre of government spending announcements is well-understood by a research sector that has seen hidden cuts and unexpected boosts buried deep in budget documents in recent years. So last week’s spending review and budget double-bill was in many respects refreshingly straightforward, even if it did not live up to the government’s own hype on R&D.

First, the good news. The sector has long-term clarity on funding, with a path to £20 billion of public cash being spent on R&D per year by 2024-25. The cost of participation in European research programmes is provided for and set out separately to the core funding channelled via UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and other bodies, which should ease fears over the prospect of future double-counting. 

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