Research Council budget allocations
The Government today set out the budget allocations for the research councils, agencies and national academies from 2016-2020, following the spending review in the autumn of 2015.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which funds most astronomy and space science in the UK, will initially see a cut in cash terms of around 3%, with its resources budget falling from £400m in 2015-16 to £388m in 2016-17. It then grows to £414m in 2019-20, a 3.5% increase on the total this year. The STFC capital allocation falls from £124m to £115m over the review period.
Geophysics in UK universities receives funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), which will see close to a flat cash settlement over the period, from £289.5m in 2015-16 to £288m in 2019-20. NERC will see a decline in available capital from £40m to £31m by 2019-20.
Professor Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said: "Along with the rest of the scientific community, we welcomed the inflationary science budget announced last autumn, but it now seems that STFC and NERC have done less well. Even in a time of low inflation, by 2020 a decade of close to flat cash for resources, and a decline in capital, will have led to a serious erosion of their spending power. I am particularly concerned at the initial cut to the STFC resource budget, which unless carefully managed could lead to instability for UK astronomy research groups."
"There is huge public interest in astronomy and space, demonstrated by both Tim Peake's mission, and the announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves last month, and these inspire our young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. The UK needs to be able to exploit the benefits of these successes to the full, and a big part of that is making sure that science has the investment it needs."