Science played only a minor role in today’s key statement on government spending from George Osborne, the United Kingdom’s chancellor of the exchequer. But he did promise more funding for science courses at universities, as the government seeks to expand the number of students in higher education. To this end, 30,000 extra university places will be created next year, and the current cap on numbers will be abolished entirely the year after that.
Osborne also promised that the United Kingdom would “push the boundaries of scientific endeavour, including in controversial areas”, and confirmed yesterday’s announcement that £270 million (US$441 million) will be invested in quantum technology. A road map for how the long-term capital spending announced earlier this year will be spent is to be produced for next year’s autumn statement.
Green issues also featured in today’s speech. The government has been criticized recently for apparently rowing back on its promise to be the ‘greenest ever’. Osborne confirmed that some taxes on energy — including some so-called green levies — will be removed, but he said this would be done in a low-carbon way. A planned increase in tax on petrol will also be cancelled.