President's response to Spending Review

Following the Chancellor's Spending Review, Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“Today’s Spending Review took place in the context of truly unparalleled medical and economic challenges. COVID-19 has already caused damage to many areas of our society. It therefore is understandable that this budget set out to invest in the UK’s social and economic recovery to help the nation through to a better year in 2021 and beyond.

“In that context, I am pleased that nearly £15 billion has been allocated to help unlock the benefits of research and development for everyone, including uplifts for both UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

“Research and development offers huge benefits not only to the health of the nation, but can also impact positively on our economy. This is true at the best of times, and is even more important in the worst of times. So it is right to harness the boom in scientific research and use it to power our recovery. After all, research pays economic dividends, with every £1 invested in medical research returning the equivalent of 25p every year, forever.

“But supporting biomedical sciences is not just about economic returns. It is crucial to the UK in many respects, including improving patient outcomes, helping the NHS rapidly recover from COVID-19, creating high-paying jobs, levelling-up infrastructure across the UK and enhancing our place in the world.

“We need a clear plan for how increased public investment in R&D can deliver these benefits, including tailored support for medical research charities in the midst of their funding crisis, more detail on how the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will support R&D and clarification about the UK’s future engagement with Horizon Europe.

“The decision to reduce official development assistance (ODA) from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP could have knock-on effects for R&D around the world. The pandemic has illustrated the fact we are globally connected. We must ensure that the UK’s crucial work overseas, to tackle the biggest challenges we face, is not undermined by this reduction.

“This Government has demonstrated commitment to research and innovation to date, from the pledge to ensure 2.4% of GDP is invested in R&D by 2027, to today’s announcement. We are ready to work with Government to ensure its investment has the largest impact for the largest number of people. We were pleased to hear news of a settlement to boost the work of the National Academies, and we look forward to hearing more details on this.”

[ENDS]

For more information on UK funding for medical research, visit this page.

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