The headlines of the June election wrote themselves: Theresa May’s master plan backfired, much to the delight of Jeremy Corbyn, and everyone frantically googled ‘DUP’ to find out who May was leaning on for support.
But for businesses in the research and development sector, we must look past the front pages and ask the question: what does this mean for us?
Unsurprisingly, the manifestos of both the leading parties relegated research and development to the latter pages as they chose to focus on the more contentious topics of Brexit and the NHS.
Although tucked away towards the back, the importance of the policies surrounding research and development cannot be diluted.
As a sector which receives over £1.3billion of expenditure each year, it is an area which cannot be ignored. So just how much do May and Corbyn value research and development?
The campaign ‘may’ be considered a disaster by many Tory MP’s, but they remain the most popular party in the UK despite there being a hung parliament. With negotiations taking place between the Tories and the DUP to release the pressure from the noose of this hung parliament, questions are coming in thick and fast for the Unionists.
On an official level, the DUP are supportive of a motion that would see an increase in expenditure for the research and development sector. Particularly in the tech side of things, the DUP aims to increase the focus on cyber security and advanced engineering, and are in favour of a 5G society.
From this perspective, a coalition with the Conservatives seems to be a perfect match. Theresa May declared an increase in funding to the R&D sector in her manifesto to support the rapidly growing electric car sector, a policy which isn’t at all dissimilar to the Irish Democratic Unionists Party.
Now, what about the bearded underdog that encouraged a record number of under 25’s to put down their phones and head to the polling stations? Well, his focus (from a research and development point of view) was largely based around science, as opposed to his right-wing counterparts who were predominantly tech-based.
Corbyn declared his intentions of playing catch-up with the likes of South Korea, China and the United States by increasing funding to the research and development sector. Labour chose to respond to the remarks from the European Commission, who said “the UK’s R&D intensity is stagnant and low in comparison to the EU’s innovation leaders” by promising to raise the expenditure to this industry up to the recommended 3 per cent. The Conservatives could only muster up a ‘long-term commitment’ to the hallowed 3 per cent mark.
The noise from other policies and promises has only provided us with a brief blurb of the changes we can expect to see in the research and development sector, but from a bird’s eye view it seems that the left wing has chosen to focus on the issue of science and the environment, while Theresa has opted to back the innovation and design sectors.
With another election on the cards as the political landscape becomes as clear as mud, hopefully, this summary of research and development policies should allow you to block out the noise of Brexit and other rowdy subjects and vote according to the policies that directly affect your business.
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