Chancellor Rishi Sunak has unveiled the government’s spending plans for 2021, with much focus given to boosting the economy as COVID-19 restrictions are expected to ease later in the year.
Under the plans, the government has promised a boost to funding for the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out, with an extra £1.65bn cash injection allocated for the nationwide programme.
A further £28m increase has also been announced for the UK’s capacity for vaccine testing and an additional £5m investment in clinical-scale mRNA manufacturing to create vaccines that will work against COVID-19 variants.
For the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries, Sunak revealed some key initiatives within the budget to help boost the sectors.
The chancellor has announced that there will be a review of research and development tax reliefs to support ‘cutting-edge’ research in the UK.
In addition, reforms to the immigration system have also been announced which would help UK pharma and life sciences companies to attract international talent.
A £375m ‘Future Fund: Breakthrough’ will also invest in innovative companies working within life sciences, quantum and clean tech.
This fund will help to support companies that are aiming to raise at least £20m of funding.
"The chancellor has recognised that innovative industries like ours must be at the heart of our future plans for growth,” said Richard Torbett, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)
"Enhanced capital investment rules and a consultation on how to reform R&D tax credits will help support this vision and are great steps towards attracting more cutting-edge investment to the UK. New high skilled visas and support for apprentices will also help us to attract and develop the talent of the future,” he added.
However, in response to the budget announcement, Danny Mortimer, chief executive officer of the NHS Confederation said the chancellor’s plans “once again left funding for health and social care services desperately wanting”.
“Last year, the chancellor promised ‘absolutely’ and ‘categorically’ to give the NHS ‘whatever resources’ it needed to get through the crisis; today, this promise seems to have evaporated and leaves the summer spending review with a lot of ground to cover.
“NHS leaders, including our members across primary care, will welcome the announcement of an additional £1.65 billion made available for the coronavirus vaccination programme, although details on what this means for frontline delivery will be crucial. We would do well to remember that this only forms a small part of a tangible recovery plan for the health service,” he added.