Heads of the United Kingdom's research councils today warned politicians that delaying capital investments due to funding cuts will harm the country's scientific standing. "It will in principle damage our international competitiveness," said Keith Mason, chief executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Mason and three other research council heads tackled questions today from the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee on their budget plans through 2015, which were unveiled on 20 December. They sounded a further note of caution when committee chair Andrew Miller pressed them on what might happen were there to be any further shortfall in capital budgets through 2015. The £355 million cut to the capital budget previously announced would be a 40% cut.
"It could become serious rather quickly," said Alan Thorpe, chair of the Research Councils UK executive group and chief executive of the Natural Environment Research Council. "Long-term stability is critical with capital."