STFC Budget 2010-11

Just a quick post to point out that the Science and Technology Facilities Council have released a reasonably complete breakdown of their current budget. I’m sure many readers working in astronomy and particle physics will find it interesting reading, though others will probably find it incredibly boring.

Here it is, for easy reference, in bits, generated by a clumsy cut-and-paste-technique wholly unbefitting the hi-tech nature of STFC, starting with the PPAN Programme:

and now the rest

For those of you not up with the accounting lingo, “near cash” means assets investments and other things that could in principle be exchanged for cash in a relatively short period of time.

These are, of course, the figures before the impending cuts take place….

There’s a much more legible version of the whole thing here.


18 Responses to “STFC Budget 2010-11”

  1. what science gets done under the ESA subscription?

    • telescoper Says:

      My understanding – and no doubt STFC experts will correct me if I’m wrong – is that the line marked “ESA subscription (ESA AURORA)” is not the full subscription for belonging to ESA, which is much larger than the figure quoted above, and which is now transferred to UKSA. It looks to me like the bit remaining in STFC’s budget is to do with the AURORA programme which is to do with Mars exploration and associated “science”.

  2. Simon Morris Says:

    I wanted to play with the numbers, and so have dumped it into a (possibly) more manipulable google doc:

  3. Chris Watson Says:

    Not an expert in anyway what-so-ever, but in response to the bit by Mat Roberts, I note there are 2 separate entries 1) “International Subscriptions (ESA Aurora) – 11.5M”, and 2) “International Subscription (ESA) – 91.1M” – so the 2 seem to have been separated?

    • telescoper Says:

      Silly me, I missed the second one. The 91.1 M is the basic ESA subscription I mentioned above, which I thought had already been transferred to UKSA but apparently that hasn’t been done yet. Probably the AURORA thing will go to UKSA as well, but I don’t know…

  4. nope – i think STFC retain the additional Aurora contributions as its “exploitation”. but i’m sure someone from STFC can confirm this (i know they’re reading this).

  5. …actually maybe i’m wrong here – see comments on the UKSA launch over on AXL:

  6. Is George Osborne suggesting Diamond Light Source is protected/ring-fenced?:

    which would affect STFC’s choices in the face of any large budget reductions.

    • Paul Crowther Says:

      Simon M:

      yup, more or less 20% of total STFC budget shifts across to UKSA from April 2011. Good riddance to ESA subscriptions but flexibility is also reduced. Reminds me of Richard W many moons ago arguing that PPARC + CCLRC = STFC meant that bigger was better (more clout). If so, clout will diminish from April (£570m -> £455m for flat-cash w.r.t. 2010/11). As John W notes, grants remain the responsibility of STFC.


      Osborne announced ‘infrastructure’ cash from LFCF (Capital Fund) will go towards Diamond upgrade. Different pot of money from individual RC’s, but part of RCUK budget. The Drayson plan for STFC was always to separate Harwell operations (Diamond, ISIS, CLF) from the rest of STFC programmes, so support for Diamond upgrade is likely to come with operations cash too.

      Putting these two items together, STFC allocation will shrink and some of the remaining cash is going to be ring-fenced for Diamond operations. Lets assume that (non-QR) near-cash Science Budget were to fall by 20% (30% in real terms) on Wed 20th and capital investment falls by 50% (scenario C in John W’s slides from Astro Forum). Should operations for Diamond remain unchanged and STFC not do worse than “average” (ever the optimist!), cash+captial for the rest of the non-USKA programme at STFC would fall by 25% or so, i.e. approx one hundred meeelion pounds less to spend per annum than at present.

      In practice this might mean..

      Mothballing ISIS + CLF (£35m) *AND*
      Withdraw from ESO (£30m*) *AND*
      Cancelling all PP grants (£24m) *AND*
      Stopping all accelerator R&D (£8m).

      ..or some other equally hideous combination thereof, in Richard W’s spreadsheet. Headline CSR science budget might be announced on Wed, but details for STFC likely to be deferred until just before Christmas.


      *UK locked into ESO until 2015(?) so large penalties would need to be paid.. deja vu re: early withdrawal from Gemini 3 years ago.

    • telescoper Says:


      Perhaps what Richard W meant wasn’t that STFC would wield more clout, but that it would be on the receiving end of a bigger clout…

  7. Terry O'Connor Says:

    the worst case (scenario C) would mean a combination of those too-horrible-to-contemplate outcomes. But the latest vibes, gossip, informed speculation doing the rounds is closer to a 15% real reduction over four years (eg, using Treasury’s possibly heroic CPI forecasts around 4-5% in cash terms). Incidentally that’s roughly the same budget reduction CERN council agreed a few weeks ago. Capital outcomes still unknown — great for Diamond it gets the Large Facilities Capital Fund money already allocated by the previous government, but no word still on the vitally important LFCF money for Phase II of ISIS Target Station 2, or for Hartree or ESRC-MRC Birth Cohort study etc. Whether a 15% cut is the result we may know Wednesday — or then again, may not. Still arguments within government over whether a science budget (ring fenced or otherwise) is included in the overall CSR — it would reduce BIS’ flexibility elsewhere, for example. Even when we know our allocation, and can get Science Board advice on priorities, the impact on research won’t be known until the universities have been able to assess whether fees can make up for the impact of the huge cuts to public funding, and what sort of deal science gets in that respect. The prospect of unintended consequences is high because our budgets run from 2011 but the tuition fees change won’t occur until 2012. STFC and EPSRC recognise this and know we need to engage ASAP with VCs and dept heads but we’ll be operating on very tight timeframes to meet the BIS requirement of mid-December Delivery Plans! And that’s without any “political considerations” that government may impose.

  8. […] on from my recent post of the STFC budget, and the comments thereon, I thought it might be useful to make the discussion a […]

  9. telescoper Says:


    I’ve started a new page at:

    Please use the comments there for reactions concerning the likely effect of cuts on the scale being discussed here.


  10. […] science community, as we were expecting much worse than the settlement suggested by the news. The RCUK budget, it seems, will be fixed in cash terms around £3.5 billion per annum for four years, as […]

  11. […] about not long ago. The point is that, owing to the nature of STFC, a very large part of its budget is tied up in the capital stream. In fact it’s even worse than you might imagine because […]

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