Chancellor to drop target to spend £22bn annually on R&D by 2024-5

Treasury decision to renege on annual £22bn target for Government R&D spending means £11bn private investment in British tech will go elsewhere, warns expert

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is thought to have dropped the Government’s target to spend £22bn annually on R&D by 2024-25.

Such a decision would choke off £11bn worth of private sector co-investment each year, lobby group The Campaign for Science and Engineering has warned.

Boris Johnson said in June he wanted to cement Britain’s position as a “science superpower”, and that the public sector spending £22bn annually on R&D by 2024-5 was central to that objective.

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The £22bn target, pledged in the 2020 budget and innovation strategy, represents a significant increase from current R&D spending, which was £14.9bn this year.

Instead, the Government will keep the £22bn target but not put any start date on it, according to the Financial Times.

“Failure to provide a clear path to £22bn will send a negative signal to business investors, which would be disastrous,” Sir Adrian Smith, president of the Royal Society, Britain’s national academy of sciences, told the newspaper.

“After all the rhetoric about the UK as a scientific superpower, it would be a real kick in the teeth to not to honour the commitment.”

Greg Clark, a former business secretary, has written Mr Johnson, Mr Sunak and business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, warning against “immensely damaging” cuts to the 2024-5 target.

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