However, this is small compared with bigger cuts at other departments in the Spending Review, including 37 per cent taken from the transport department and 25 per cent from the health department’s offices.
The chancellor outlined major cuts to a number of government departments, much of it targeted at spending on Whitehall staff and resources, due to promised extra cash for schools, transport and sport.
This will see the BIS budget cut by 17 per cent, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport by five per cent, Environment by 17 per cent and the Department for Energy and Climate Change by 22 per cent.
The move will see cuts to funding for the poorest students and will mean existing students and graduates who took out loans since 2012 will be asked to pay more, via a freeze to the repayment threshold.
The government will “provide new financial support through maintenance loans for part-time HE students, tuition fee loans for higher level skills in Further Education and new loans for postgraduate master’s degrees, reaching £1bn in 2019-20 and benefiting around 250,000 students”. Teaching grants, currently about £1.4bn, will also be cut “by £120m by 2019-20”.
Read more from the Autumn Statement 2015:
- 26 enterprise zones created or extended
- Free childcare entitlement to double from 2017
- Small firms to have digital tax accounts as part of £1.3bn HMRC reform
The decision to scrap student maintenance grants and replace them with loans is counted as a spending review saving and will “save over £2bn a year by 2019-20”.
The chancellor said the cuts would allow for more spending on science, calling it “one of the best ways to back business”. He explained that extra cash would be pumped into the Henry Royce Institute for Advanced Materials Research – the “self-styled centre of the Northern Powerhouse”.
The spending review document claimed that total science funding will be over £500m higher by the end of the parliament compared to 2015-16. This will include a £1.5bn new Global Challenges Fund.
The headline BIS cut will see its total budget, resource and capital, decline from £16.6bn this year to £13.2bn in 2019-20.
According to the IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed: “We were pleased the cut to the BIS budget was less severe than expected. We hope the 17 per cent cut announced will mean key BIS initiatives are not impacted.
“The work of BIS is essential to the smallest businesses, playing a crucial role in the soon to be established, Small Business Commissioner and the Self-employment Review due to report back in early 2015.”
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