Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Submission from the Office of Science and Innovation, Department of Trade and Industry



  The Winter Supplementary Estimate for Request for Resource 2 is to take up previously unused provision both through the End Year Flexibility (EYF) mechanism and from the Science Budget's Unallocated Provision.

  The Main Estimates are prepared before the previous year's outcome is known, and thus any EYF required is included in Supplementary Estimates.

  Unallocated provisions are set out within the publication "Science Budget Allocations 2005-06 to 2007-08" (available at and consist principally of the budget for the Large Facilities CapitalFund and that for the additional costs of international subscriptions paid by ResearchCouncils where the extra cost is attributed to changes in Net National Income andcurrency movements. OST allocates out these amounts as the needs become clear.

  Responses to the Committee's questions are as follows:


  How does OST ensure that it retains the financial flexibility to remain responsive to new demands and opportunities as they arise?


  As explained in the Allocations Booklet, OST has allocated out virtually the whole of the Science Budget to the Research Councils and other delivery partners for the 3 years of the Spending Review period. The Research Councils themselves have built into their Delivery Plans a degree of flexibility to enable them to respond to new demands and opportunities.


  The Committee would like a note on how the additional £141,000,000 payable to ESRC, over and above the provision outlined in the Main Estimate in July, will be spent. It would also like to know for what reason this additional sum is not included in the ESRC's five year strategic plan, published three days before the winter supplementary estimates.


  To promote university research sustainability, Spending Review 2002 allocated £12GM to increase the proportion of costs paid by the Research Councils for the projects they fund, as described in "Science Budget Allocations 2005-06 to 2007-08", page 10. The Councils decided to add a supplement of £21 million from their own budgets, giving a total amount of £141 million for 2005-06. This enhancement was not paid out on individual grants (as it will be in future) but as a single payment to each university on the basis of assessed levels of research. The Economic and Social Research Council acted as coordinating agent on behalf of OST and made payments to all the eligible universities. These payments were made in July 2005. The increase in Council's grant-in-aid is for this end and not for the Council's programmes.

  The additional sum was not included in the Council's plan because ESRC was merely acting as an agent for OST in distributing the £141 million sustainability funding.


  The Committee would like a note on the reasons for the increase of £42,000,000 in the grant available to PPARC


  The total of £42.2 million grant-in-aid increase comprises £10.7 million EYF drawn by PPARC for programme purposes, and £30.9 million for international subscriptions as described above, plus £2.2 million distribution of other central held funds, less a £1.5 million adjustment from internal Council cashflow.


  The grants payable to CCLRC for both normal activities and the development of the Diamond Synchrotron have also increased by a total of £103,544,000. Whilst this now aligns the main CCLRC grant with that proposed in the Science Budget Allocation 2005-06 to 2007-08, published by DTI in May 2005, there is no such explanation for the increase to the grant for the Diamond Synchrotron. What is the reason for the additional funding?


  The additional funding for Diamond of £23.2 million represents previously agreed allocations of capital to Diamond from the Large Facilities fund which have now been drawn down for utilisation in the construction of these new facilities.


  The Committee would like a note on the contribution the additional funds allocated to OST and the Research Councils will make to meeting Public Service Agreement 2: Science and Innovation.


  The additional funding is part of the Science Budget. The Science Budget is the major funding source provided by Government in support of Public Service Agreement 2 and is used to support research in HEIs, support the updating of the research base infrastructure and promoting exploitation of research through the funding of knowledge transfer activities in universities and public sector research establishments.

January 2006

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