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Government funding

The seven UK Research Councils receive funding from the Government's Science Budget. The Science Budget is administered through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

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 Government priorities.

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 justice system.

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.

Science Budget

The Science Budget is administered through the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BEIS). 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:

Resource Allocation:
£2.50 billion in 2011-12
£2.57 billion in 2012-13
£2.59 billion in 2013-14
£2.60 billion in 2014-15

Capital Allocation:
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 BEIS (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 location.

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).


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