Former science minister urges incumbent to create £25m fund
Chris Skidmore has written to Amanda Solloway, his successor as science minister, to urge the government to create an emergency £25 million fund to ensure the future of the UK’s “science centres”.
These centres include museums and cultural organisations such as the Science Museum in London, the Glasgow Science Centre, Thinktank in Birmingham, Techniquest in Cardiff and Newcastle’s Centre for Life. According to Skidmore’s letter, published by Research Professional News, these organisations have “had their entire incomes cut off overnight” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Skidmore (pictured) is backing an Association for Science and Discovery Centres campaign that calls for additional financial support to be made available to prevent “irreparable damage to this vibrant and essential sector”.
“These robust and sustainable organisations receive no government funding and are not eligible for the coronavirus support packages the government has made available to heritage and arts organisations, zoos and frontline charities,” the former minister writes.
“It is clear to see that sharing the latest science with the public forms an integral part of the government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy. Creating a well-informed, scientifically knowledgeable society is vital if we are to overcome major global challenges such as this pandemic and climate change.”
The Science Centres For Our Future campaign, backed by Skidmore, is calling for a £25m “Emergency Resilience Fund”, which Skidmore says will “ensure the future of this world-renowned network”.
“It is imperative that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy takes the lead on supporting this national sector that is essential to the future of science, research and innovation in the UK,” he writes.
A BEIS spokesperson told Research Professional News that the department “wants to make sure that during the Covid-19 outbreak, the UK’s world-leading science professionals continue to get the funding they need”.
“The government has already committed to increasing public R&D investment to £22bn per year by 2024-25 and has set the target of at least 2.4 per cent of GDP being spent on R&D by 2027.” he said.