The seven UK Research Councils receive funding from the Government's Science
Budget. The Science Budget is administered through the Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills (BIS).
Some Research Councils also receive income from other Government Departments,
commercialisation of research and other research funders.
Councils are required to report to Parliament on their activities and finances.
Government Spending Reviews
The Science Budget is set by the Government’s Spending Reviews, which is the
mechanism used by Treasury to determine how much tax payers money to put into various
Money is not just to deliver public services but is linked to the reform of the
public sector and improvements in education, health, transport and the criminal
Each Spending Review sets a three year budget for Government Departments and
associated Public Service Agreement (PSA) targets – the improvements the public
can expect from the use of their taxes.
Spending Reviews overlap so that the last year of one Spending Review period
is also the first year of the next Spending Review period. This gives the Treasury
flexibility to respond to economic pressures and changing priorities.
The Science Budget is administered through the Department for Business, Innovation
and Skills (BIS). It was £3.1 billion in 2005-06 and rose to £3.2 billion in 2010-11.
At Treasury’s request the Science Budget is ring fenced.
This public investment is provided to contribute to the delivery of the Government’s
objectives for science and innovation. The Research Councils receive the majority
of public investment each year from the Science Budget. Figures for the period 2011/12
to 2014/15 (the 2010 Spending Review period) are as follows:
£2.50 billion in 2011-12
£2.57 billion in 2012-13
£2.59 billion in 2013-14
£2.60 billion in 2014-15
Please note these figures are indicative for the three financial years from 2012-13 to 2014-15.
£0.24 billion in 2011-12
£0.20 billion in 2012-13
£0.18 billion in 2013-14
£0.18 billion in 2014-15
The remainder of the Science Budget funding is deployed either by BIS (and includes
the Large Facilities Capital Fund and the Science Research Infrastructure Fund)
or allocated to the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering or the British Academy.
Dual support system
Under the dual support system, the Research Councils provide grants for specific
projects and programmes, while the UK’s Funding Councils provide block grant funding
to support the research infrastructure and enable institutions to undertake ground-breaking
research of their choosing. Such funding also provides the capacity to undertake
research commissioned by the private sector, Government Departments, charities,
the European Union and other international bodies.
There are four Funding Councils in the UK, supported by the Department for Business,
Innovation and Skills and the devolved Departments of Education.
Research Council funds are awarded on the basis of applications made by individual
researchers, which are subject to independent, expert peer review. Awards
are made on the basis of the research potential and are irrespective of geographical
Funding Council support for research (Quality Related or QR funding) is distributed
on the basis of the excellence of individual departments in higher education institutions,
using the results of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).