Science budget: DFID to pay for £1.5bn Global Challenges Fund

Funding for the newly-announced £1.5-billion Global Challenges Fund will come from the Department for International Development, the Treasury has confirmed.

A spokeswoman from the Treasury told Research Fortnight that funding for the five-year programme would come from DFID’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) budget. The cash will then be passed on to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to spend as it sees fit, she added. At the same time it is expected that the funding will need to be spent on projects that are ODA-compliant

The £1.5bn Global Challenges Fund—the distribution mechanism for which has still to be confirmed—is to sit within the overall science budget, which has been protected in real terms from a baseline of £4.7bn from 2016-17. The fund will contribute to the UK's target to spend 0.7 per cent of its GDP on international development.  

Asked if this was part of DFID's budget, the Treasury spokeswoman replied: "It is BIS's money; they’re spending it, but in the same sense you could almost say the Treasury gives money to BIS at the start."

The move is likely to be seen as an accounting trick, as it effectively buys BIS out of a contribution of around £300 million a year towards the overall budget. 

The treasury spokeswoman also confirmed that the additional £500m in research funding announced in the chancellor’s spending review, delivered on 25 November, comes from increases with inflation.


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George Osborne

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