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Work Foundation calls for £4.5bn science funding

The Autumn Statement should direct at least £4.5bn to boost science, technology and regional growth, the Work Foundation has stated.

In its submission to the Autumn Statement, the Work Foundation is calling for funds from the sale of 4G licences to be invested in science, technology and innovation. There should be a further round of the Regional Growth Fund, with £1bn funding, and funding for LEPs to be increased from £25m to £50m to drive growth.

Other recommendations include freezing R&D tax credits at their current rates, setting out a new plan for growth drawing on the Heseltine Review, bring forward the British Business Bank and increase funding for science and technology by £300m.

Ian Brinkley, director of The Work Foundation, said: “We believe the Government has scope to relax the pace of deficit reduction in the short-term in order to directly fund new investment and stimulate growth. While there are legitimate concerns about the impact this may have on the markets, there is less likely to be an adverse reaction if the stimulus is clearly focused on creating assets and underpinning sustainable growth.

“We therefore think that it would be a mistake for the Chancellor to go for expensive short-term tax cuts. The money would be much better used if channelled into additional infrastructure investment, supporting the science, design and technology base and strengthening innovation-focused institutions. We strongly support the Campaign for Science and Engineering and Nesta’s proposition that the proceeds from the sale of 4G licences should be channelled into these areas.

“Furthermore, given falling real wages and the fact that employers are hiring in large numbers, there is little need for the government to pursue wasteful measures aimed at making the labour force less expensive or more flexible, such as national insurance holidays or further de-regulation. Such measures will do nothing to spur demand in the economy.”

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