Budget will focus on shoring up British economy

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It comes after the Government had previously pledged to increase R&D spending by £22billion a year by 2024 and 2025. But the Chancellor appears to have backtracked on that pledge as the target has been delayed by two years. It was part of a long-term commitment to boost total research and development (R&D) spending to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2027.

Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls Royce exclusively told Express.co.uk: “There’s no question that from our company perspective we applaud the Government for its initiative to get the gross level that we spend on R&D up from 1.7 to 2.4 as rapidly as we can to make us competitive with our peers.”

But Mr Stein called on the Government to stick to its promises and make good investments if it is to have a chance of achieving its initial pledge.

He added: “The Government has to get the balance right and it has to invest in the right things across our economy and what we’re looking for is a closer partnership between Government and industry.

“The partnership between Government and industry, and that partnership is partly about money, partly about people, and its partly about having shared objectives to increase the productivity of the UK by increasing R&D.

“All of that is contained in the BEIS innovation strategy and as a company, we’re hoping to see steps towards implementing that strategy.

“We’re an R&D intensive company so our partnership with the UK is an important one.”

The BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) innovation strategy seeks to boost productivity across the economy, and in turn bring jobs, growth and prosperity to all parts of the UK through R&D performing organisations like Rolls Royce, Government, finance providers and others.

But the delay to the increase in the R&D budget will no doubt be an obstacle to carrying out that strategy.

Last year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced plans to double the UK’s spending on R&D.

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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.

Speaking at the Science and Technology Committee last week, Sir Adrian Smith, Chief Executive of the Alan Turing Institute and President of the Royal Society, said: “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.”

This does not fare well for Boris Johnson’s promise to make Britain a “science superpower.”

Last week, Express.co.uk spoke to Shadow Science Minister, Chi Onwurah who said that even the Government’s original target was not enough to claim that status.

She said: “1.7 percent spending [of GDP] on science, which is where we are, is near the bottom of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development).

“2.4 percent, which is where the Tories are trying to get to, is kind of average and it doesn’t look like we’re going to make that.

“If we’re aiming for average and we’re not even going to make that then the Government is not going to meet its commitment of becoming a science superpower.”

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