If the UK wants to turn the corner, it has to bet on Science

On Monday we published a little blog (LSS 13 3 23) in which we hoped that UK PLC might be “turning the corner”  Maybe. Because we have links to two devastating articles, one from Tom Rees and colleagues for Bloomberg, and one from Martin Samuels from the Times, who paint a very different picture (Spoiler alert: you’ll need to jump the paywall for these, but we promise you; they’re worth it) [2] [3]

So why are we saying all this? Because the UK Finance Minister, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is presenting his budget today. And yes, he will be fiddling with all those tax-ey, demand-ey minutiae which Chancellors do from time to time. But we think he’s like a man playing with a toy yacht in the swimming pool on a cruise liner. Whichever way he sends his yacht, it’s ultimate destination will be determined elsewhere. But there is one thing he could try.

The Horizon scheme is not a nerdy 1970s TV show for scientists. It’s a vast collaborative network of researchers, awash with money and new ideas which could clearly make a long term difference to the UK’s dreadful economic performance. And scientists, business folk, anyone with a rational, patriotic interest in getting us all a little more money are screaming for it [4] Now we could wax lyrical about how changes in science seem to raise the general standard of the economy long term. The telescope, the steam engine, the computer (alright, I get it-ed) But if you want something a little more detailed, try this link from the IMF [1]

We’re hoping to follow up on this by getting some reactions from real time business experts. We promise to come back to you when we do. Meanwhile, Jeremy, if you’re reading this-it’s just a thought!

[1] https://www.imf.org/en/Blogs/Articles/2021/10/06/blog-ch3-weo-why-basic-science-matters-for-economic-growth

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-12/a-lost-decade-worse-than-japan-s-threatens-to-change-uk-forever?utm



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