Fellows are invited to comment in advance of the meeting on the Forum
In common with the other Research Councils, PPARC has had to take action to meet the £68M reduction in funds available up to the end of the 2007/08 financial year resulting from budgetary difficulties in DTI (see http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/news/20070221budget.htm). The PPARC share of the shortfall is £3.1M.
Given the long-term nature of the PPARC programme, most of the 2007/08 budget is already committed, leaving little flexibility in where we can make the necessary savings. All areas of the PPARC programme will be affected, as the sum required will be found through delaying construction and development projects and by postponing the start date of new, unnamed, posts within grants. In the current grant rounds new starts will be delayed from April to October 2007 for Astronomy and October 2007 to April 2008 for Particle Physics.
Delaying the start of new posts by 6 months corresponds to a reduction of £1.5M (2.5% of the grants budget) in research grants for data exploitation and theory, and will allow us to make the savings without loss of staff. Naturally we regret that this action is necessary, but it should be seen in the context of increases in grant funds in recent years. The decision will affect particle physics and astronomy grants equally, and, in astronomy, both rolling and standard grants. By taking the approach of delaying unfilled posts rather than cutting the extant workforce, we hope to minimise the long-term damage done to the programme.
In the case of construction & development projects, the £1.6M (4.8% of the projects budget) that has to be found will exacerbate an already difficult situation where the demand from highly ranked and strategic projects greatly exceeds the available resource. The effect of this reduction will be to make it hard to start new programmes in the coming year.
Professor Keith Mason