Society needs science, delegates agree

Society needs science, delegates agree

Scientific research is key to the UK’s economic prosperity and the government’s approach of restricting public funding for research is wrongheaded, said Liam Docherty (London and South east region).

The UK is bottom of the G8 group and below the average of OECD countries on science spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, he said.

Although the government is committed to protecting science funding, it is still lower than it would have been if it had been maintained.

“Protecting rather than increasing the science budget is wrongheaded and not enough,” he said.

The benefits of science are well-known. “The challenges facing society show that we need science,” he concluded.

Helen Snaith (Natural Environment Research Council) said the government’s claim that it had protected science spending in real terms was not strictly true as the budget is being pushed to particular areas.

Marine science for example had seen its admin budget slashed by 20-25%. This has reduced the research councils’ ability to manage the funding.

Geraldine O’Connell, speaking on behalf of the NEC, said the case for science investment was overwhelming.

The UK has an excellent science base and outperforms the USA in the quality of its research output.

She said Prospect was commited to making the case for UK science. She added that public sector collaboration doesn’t need the wholesale transfer of staff between organisations.

On highlighting success stories, she told delegates that Prospect relies on them to give us their good news.

Conference agreed and backed the call for the executive to continue to campaign for an increase in public funding for science and to highlight success stories, both to decision makers and the public at large.