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UK scientists respond positively to the annual budget

“Historic” budget

By James Dacey

Since Obama came to office, scientists in the US seem to be pretty happy with the way he is divvying up national funds.

Yesterday, it was the turn of the UK Government to announce its annual spending plans as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling delivered the budget in Westminster.

If the morning papers are to reflect public opinion, it is fair to say that the “historic” tax increases and plans to borrow a further £348 bn over the next 2 years have gone down like a lead balloon.

“Darling’s Great Squeeze”, The Guardian
“Alistair’s living in wonderland”, Daily Mail
“They’ve ruined Britain”, The Daily Express

However, as part of the budget statement, Darling also revealed that £2.5 billion would be invested in “industries of the future”, including digital communications and biotech; £1.5 billion specifically for low carbon technologies; and the creation of a £750 million venture capital fund to help technology start-up firms prosper.

Early reactions from the scientific community have been positive.

“This is a budget that does recognise the need to invest in science and technology,” said Sir Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society.

Robert Kirby-Harris, chief executive at the Institute of Physics was also up beat:

“The Chancellor has called upon UK science to play a key role in ensuring we have a world-leading economic future. Money is being directed by the Government towards the industries which will help us to deliver on this agenda. This is commendable and we are confident that the UK science base is up to the challenge.”

Given the perilous economic conditions, it remains to be seen whether this investment will be to much or too little…

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