Policy Update – April 2023

Sharon Witherspoon MBE FAcSS, Head of Policy, Academy of Social Sciences 

Horizon Europe

There is continuing uncertainty about UK participation in, and funding for, Horizon Europe.

First, there have been some overt criticisms within Europe about Horizon Europe.  Two of the main points are the excess bureaucracy at all stages of EU funding, the over-emphasis on commercialisation at the expense of fundamental research.

Second, the Prime Minister has expressed scepticism about whether Horizon Europe is value for money, and doesn’t align with his priorities for science spending.  There have been criticisms from the most recent Nurse Review.

Third, there is no one conducting the kind of advocacy for consider social science as happened in the planning for Horizon 2020 (in which UK advocacy was particularly strong).  The debates have been even more centred on natural and physical sciences than normal.

UK Science Policy

Last month we mentioned the Tony Blair and William Hague report on what needs to change in UK science policy. (Good summary here.)   There is no question that the mainly focusses on STEM sciences.  But the debate on Treasury short-termism and micro-management of science policy, and the failure to build long-term research and partnerships on issues which will have to involve the social sciences (net zero, ageing, health service productivity, etc.) is growing apace.

There is a good Twitter thread here about some of the issues.  The Labour Shadow Science Minister Chi Onwurah has also spoken about it, but again it may not be clear to the manifestos what the true position is.  And governments do behave differently from oppositions.  So this is worth watching.  Another point is that the Shadow Minister too rarely mentions social sciences.

Contact us

Write to policy@acss.org.uk and let us know if you have suggestions or ideas about our message, or to suggest future topics we should explore.