Report reveals how government cuts could impact charity funded research

Cancer Research UK

Future cuts by the government could undermine research funded by charities, leaving them no choice but to make difficult decisions about the studies they fund, according to a report published today.

Cancer Research UK receives no funding for its research from the government, but relies on government supported infrastructure such as universities and hospitals to carry out around 60 per cent of its research.

At a time when the Government is looking to accelerate economic growth, maintaining support for the research base is a good way to do this.

The Office of Health Economics (OHE) report, commissioned by Cancer Research UK, also reveals how cuts would not only have an immediate effect, but will seriously hamper research in the future. The loss of infrastructure and personnel could not be reversed overnight, leaving the UK far behind in the research stakes as other nations continue to invest.

Professor Nic Jones, Cancer Research UK’s chief scientist, said: “Britain is unique - every year, the public gives hundreds of millions of pounds of their own money directly to medical research charities. Most other countries rely on the government to fund medical research, but here the pensioner in the charity shop, the mum doing Race for Life or the schoolboy collecting pennies all play their part.

“Although Cancer Research UK receives no direct funding from the Government for our research, around 60 per cent is indirectly supported or eligible for support through initiatives such as the Charity Research Support Fund. Without this money we simply couldn’t keep up the levels of research we’re doing to find new treatments and to figure out new ways to detect disease.”

Cancer Research UK spends around £165 million each year - around 51 per cent of our research budget - on research in universities. All of this money goes directly towards our life saving research.

But, this is only possible because of the government’s Charity Research Support Fund (CRSF)1 – a pot of money used by universities to top-up charity funded research. This pays for maintaining laboratories, buying the latest equipment and crucially paying researchers salaries allowing charities to focus on funding the actual research.

The rest of Cancer Research UK’s remaining budget is spent in our research institutes or in direct partnership with the government2.

Jon Sussex, who led on the report for the OHE, said: "We were interested to see how closely the public sector and charities work together. This report shows that a pulling back by public sector funders could have damaging impact on fundraising charities and on science in the UK."

Sarah Woolnough, director of policy at Cancer Research UK, said: "The focus of the government's policy on growth has centred on getting more private investment into research in the UK. However, UK research charities invested over £1bn last year in research in the UK and the government should be making it a priority to do all they can to maintain it.

“We want the government to continue to build the valuable relationship between charities and the public sector so that, through our combined research efforts, we can help save more lives in the future."

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact the Cancer Research UK press office on 020 3469 8300 or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.

Notes to Editor

1 The Higher Education Funding Council for England has allocated £197.5 million to CRSF for 2011/2012 (from the research funding allocation it receives from government). This funding allows medical research charities to continue to have a strong funding presence in universities – members of the Association of Medical Research Charities now spend over £1 billion in the UK. And in 2008/09 85 per cent of their members funding was directed to UK universities. About 51 per cent of Cancer Research UK’s annual investment in research is in universities, the majority of which is eligible for CRSF

2 About 13 per cent of Cancer Research UK’s annual investment in research is in true partnership with Government, for example, our Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres and the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative.

About 36 per cent of our annual investment in research is independent of government, for example, our four research institutes.