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Scientists dodge Osborne's axe

Diamond Light Source not cut

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Scientists are today expressing relief that the government's deep cuts have left them relatively unscathed.

The Chancellor George Osborne said the £4.6bn science budget, administered by the the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, will be maintained over the next four years. He accepted that research will be key to long-term economic growth.

The decision means major projects such as the Diamond Light Source can go ahead.

"Make no mistake: even with a flat cash settlement the next few years will be challenging ones," said Professor Marshall Stoneham, President of the Institute of Physics.

"But we have to be realistic. In our current financial situation, all sectors of society will have to face some sacrifices, and the science community accepts that it cannot be immune."

"I am confident that we will have the skill and determination to weather the next few years, and to contribute to the re-growth of our economy. In the longer term, I hope we will see a return to a steady increase in the level of funding for research, both by the public and the private sectors."

The Royal Society of Chemistry echoed the guarded welcome.

"When times allow, we need to increase funding considerably to stay competitive. Although a budgetary freeze has been announced, in reality this is a cut over time, when inflation is taken into account," said chief executive Richard Pike.

"We and other science organisations asked the government ahead of the review to value science and they have heeded this message. We appreciate that science has fared better than many areas, which shows the government understands just how important science is to our country’s immediate and long-term prosperity."

The relief follows a demonstration at the Treasury by supporters of the Science is Vital campaign, which urged the coalition to protect science against a backdrop of 20 per cent cuts across the public sector. ®

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