Budget 2021: The UK can be a ‘scientific superpower’

05 March 2021 | Muriel Cozier

‘The Budget appears to signal a rejection by the Chancellor of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.’

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has used his Budget to stress that economic recovery requires the UK to be at the ‘forefront of the next scientific and technological revolutions.’

‘Becoming a scientific superpower is something we can be; I don’t think that’s hubristic or unrealistic’ Sunak said.

Looking to an investment-led recovery, the Budget included a £375million UK-wide ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’ which will invest in highly innovative companies such as those in life sciences, quantum computing, or clean technology.

Supporting energy generation, port infrastructure will be built for new offshore wind projects on Teesside and on the banks of the River Humber. There was also the promise of £68 million to fund a UK-wide competition to deliver first-of-a-kind, long-duration energy storage demonstrators that will store excess low carbon energy over longer periods. In addition, £4 million will be made available for a biomass feedstock programme.

Highlighting a drive to make the UK an ideal location for innovative companies Sunak said: ‘I am launching two wide-ranging consultations; to make sure our research and development tax-relief – and our Enterprise Management Incentives – are internationally competitive.’ The Chancellor also said that steps were being taken to free up new streams of finance from the pensions industry to support innovative businesses.

While the Chancellor’s Budget was broadly welcomed, Darren Jones, Chair of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee felt that Budget did little to deal with ‘foundational issues,’  impacting the economy post-Brexit and in the transition to net-zero.

Commenting on the green recovery Jones added; ‘The Budget appears to signal a rejection by the Chancellor of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. In the year of the UK’s COP26 Presidency, this does not deliver the domestic leadership necessary to make the climate summit a success, nor does it signal the required ambition on decarbonisation and green jobs needed in the decades ahead.’

Chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP added ‘The Chancellor has today missed an opportunity to go further: reducing VAT for green sectors including energy efficiency upgrade and investing more significantly in renewable low-carbon energy.’

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