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Economy Economy

Increase investment in research and development

Last updated: 11:18am 16 September 2019

At the last autumn statement, we announced a significant increase in government investment in research and development. We will deliver this…

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.19

Our verdict

On the 2016 Autumn Statement, a new National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) was announced, promising “£23 billion in high-value investment” over the next six years. One of the spending areas targeted by the NPIF was research and development (R&D). The 2016 Autumn Statement promised:

“£4.7 billion to enhance the UK’s position as a world leader in science and innovation”

This policy is a promise to deliver on that announcement.

The latest report on R&D expenditure available from the Office for National Statistics covers the following financial year, 2017-18. It shows that:

  • R&D expenditure rose by £1.6 billion in 2017, an increase of 4.8%
  • R&D expenditure in 2017 represented 1.69% of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 1.67% in 2016

So the promise to increase investment was being met.

In the 2017 Autumn Budget, the government extended the NPIF into 2022-23 and increased the size of the fund to £31 billion. That suggests an even longer-term commitment to increased investment in R&D.

Also, the latest figures from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics show that the UK is currently spending 1.7% of GDP on R&D. The increase from 2016 levels appears to have been maintained.

This was a pledge to follow through on a spending commitment made by the previous government, and the evidence seems to show that the current government has done just that. This policy is ‘done’.

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