Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 Presented to Parliament

Rishi Sunak delivered the Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 to Parliament on 27 October 2021.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has delivered his Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021 statement to the House of Commons. The Chancellor announced that total government departmental spending is set to grow in real terms at 3.8% a year on average over this Parliament – a cash increase of £150 billion a year by 2024-25 (£90 billion in real terms).

Announcements of particular interest to the research sector include:

  • £20 billion for R&D by 2024-25, including funding for EU programmes under Horizon Europe, to ‘cement the UK as a global science and technology superpower’. In the event that the UK is unable to associate to Horizon Europe, the funding allocated to Horizon association will go to UK government R&D programmes, including those to support new international partnerships.
  • R&D tax reliefs will be reformed to support modern research methods by expanding qualifying expenditure to include data and cloud costs, to more effectively capture the benefits of R&D funded by the reliefs through refocusing support towards innovation in the UK, and to target abuse and improve compliance.
  • The ‘largest ever cash uplift for health R&D’, with an increase of £605 million on 2021-22 funding by 2024-25 – rising to £2 billion by the end of the SR21 period. This includes support for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to address significant healthcare challenges – including confirming £40 million for new investment in social care research and £30 million to support investment in research skills and training.
  • £33 million in 2022-23 to deploy two new COVID-19 antiviral treatments through a national study.
  • Increasing R&D spending focused on solving problems faced by developing countries from £0.6 billion in 2021-22 to £1 billion in 2024-25, including for research tackling global health and climate threats.
  • £140 million over three years for Defra to scale-up the Natural Capital and Ecosystems Assessment which will map the extent, condition and biodiversity of England’s natural habitats. A further £75 million will be allocated for research and innovation in support of net zero in partnership with industry across agriculture, soils and peat, waste, and land use.
  • At least £2.5 billion for Innovate UK core funding, a 36% increase across the SR21 period, to help connect companies to the capital, skills and connections needed to innovate and grow.
  • A Global Talent Network to bring highly skilled people to the UK in key science and technology sectors. This network will work with businesses and research institutions to identify UK skills needs and source talent in overseas campuses, innovation hubs and research institutions to bring to the UK. It will launch in 2022 in the Bay Area and Boston in the US, and Bengaluru in India.

These announcements were underpinned by revised forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) Economic growth this year has been revised up from 4% to 6.5%. The OBR then expects the economy to grow by 6% in 2022, and 2.1%, 1.3% and 1.6% over the next three years.

(This report was the subject of a RESEARCHconnect Newsflash.)