Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak mocks Labour with 'red flag' jibe
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It comes after the Chancellor failed to cut the European Union’s five percent energy tax, despite facing mounting pressure from the Labour opposition and British public. Cheaper bills and greater control over the UK’s energy market were some of the key pledges of the 2016 Vote Leave campaign. At the time, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove vowed to slash the EU’s VAT on domestic energy while promising “fuel bills will be lower for everyone”.
But the Government appears to have backtracked on this Brexit campaign pledge as it was not included in today’s announcement.
And it’s not the only one.
The Chancellor has announced that the UK will “maintain” its target to get to £22billion-a-year spending on research and development (R&D).
He added: “We will invest more in innovation.
“The UK is already a world leader. With less than one percent of the world’s population we have 14 of the world’s top universities.
“We want to go further.
“We will maintain our target to maintain R&D investment to £22billion.
“In order to get there, we will reach the target in 2026/2027.
“Spending by the end of this Parliament £20billion a year on R&D.”
This target appears to be two years later than the original promise of 2024/25.
BBC Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh commented on Twitter: “The Chancellor has pushed back his commitment to increasing science spending to £22billionn by two years to 2026/27.
“Some in the science community were fearing worse news and will be grateful for a firm date for the increase.”
It comes following severe criticism over the proposed delay.
Mr Johnson’s former advisor Dominic Cummings has hit out at the Government for scrapping the pledge, and warned him of turning his back on Leave votes.
He said on Twitter: “Clear from talking to No 10 people [£22billion] is dead.
“PM stealing money previously aimed at R&D for gimmicks, plug holes.
“Tories abandoning Vote Leave plan = terrible for them long-term and a big chance for Labour, but Labour is lost too.”
Speaking at the Science and Technology Committee, Sir Adrian Smith, Chier Executive of the Alan Turing Institute and President of the Royal Society, said: “There is going to be a signal sent at the end of the spending review.
“The nature, the tone and the content of that signal is fundamentally important for the science community.
“If we don’t have a clear signal that the funding is going to come in behind the rhetoric and the aspiration, we’re not going to get that leverage of private investment.
“We need a clear sustainable path to the £22billion by 2024. The danger of a negative signal is potentially disastrous.”
Sir Paul Nurse, also President of the Royal Society and Chief Executive and Director of the Francis Crick Institute told the committee that this boost to funding would bring spectacular benefits to British science.
He said: “We’ve been underfunded in science for decades, actually all my life and we bump around at the bottom of the OECD.
“If we had money, we would be absolutely spectacular at science
“We do very very well on a very limited budget and the Government has recognised that.”
In March last year, Mr Sunak announced plans to double the UK’s spending on R&D.
But, according to the Campaign for Science and Engineering, a three-year delay to that target would see the UK lose out on more than £11billion of private R&D investment between now and 2027.
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