Evan Harris and cuts to science funding

You may be interested in this call to arms by Evan Harris on The Guardian blog today.  His essential point is that scientists and their supporters need to focus their attention on HM Treasury from this point onwards.  Geoff Brumfiel makes a similar call in his article today also in The Guardian.

That is certainly our sense at AMRC as well.  At this stage in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) the locus of decision-making shifts to Osborne and colleagues.   Between now and then we will also, of course, have the party conference season and we shouldn’t underestimate its importance this year in getting the message across.

Some of you may have also seen the following piece in the Time Higher this week which talks about scientists’ fears that the Government is banking on charities to fill the gaps resulting from science cuts.  It is a recurrent fallacy in Whitehall thinking that the third sector is a safety net with an endless capacity to catch the fallout from its decisions.  How wrong they are.  We should not and can not substitute for Government funding.

While we are the first to shout about our success we are also acutely aware that it is only possible because we are part of a much wider, enterprising collaboration.  In the run-up to the Cooksey review many moons ago, I remember being told that medical research funding in the UK is like four legs of a chair, each one representing a different stream – charities, private, Medical Research Council, NIHR.  When in balance, the chair is stable.  Begin to saw a little of any leg, and the chair falls over.  I might send the Treasury one with a note so they get the idea.

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