The work of the UK research councils - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Science and Technology Facilities Council


16 DECEMBER 2009

Science and Technology Facilities Council: additional resources

  Alan Thorpe has asked me to reply to the questions that you have asked him in your letter of 7 December on questions raised about STFC's finances when he attended the hearing of the Committee on 2 December.

  As you are aware, STFC's budget is dominated by international subscriptions and facility operations; these are largely fixed costs and, can so therefore it is difficult to make substantial changes in the short-term, particularly in a period when programme restructuring is required. Changes in exchange rates, for example between the euro and the pound, exacerbate the impact on STFC's overall finances. While STFC bears the first £3 million (each year) of the impact of exchange rate movements, we are compensated for the balance. BIS (formerly DIUS) has provided £45 million in 2008-09 and 2009-10 to meet these additional costs. These monies do not have to be repaid.

  After the CSR07 settlement STFC borrowed £40 million, comprising £20 million of near cash in 2009-10 (out of £26 million offered by BIS) and £20 million capital in 2008-09. Following discussions with BIS (then DIUS) we agreed to take the loans to help us with optimising our programme across the CSR period. STFC will pay back the "loans" in the next financial year and these are to be included in the development of our 2010-11 budget.

  As STFC works very closely with RCUK on the allocation of resources within the science budget, decisions on how these monies would have otherwise been spent would have been taken in close consultation with them.

  I hope that this clarifies the position.

Professor Keith Mason

Science and Technology Facilities Council

December 2009

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