New SAGE report calls for £4.7 billion annual increase in UK’s social science and innovation budget over the next Parliament

SAGE, a leading independent academic publisher, and strong advocate for the social sciences, today published a major new report, written by the Campaign for Social Sciences (CfSS) highlighting the value of social sciences to the UK economy and society.

The Business of People: The Significance of Social Science over the Next Decade calls for at least a 10 per cent increase in real terms of the £4.7 billion annual budget for science and innovation over the next parliament.

This landmark CfSS report, published ahead of the 2015 UK General election, warns that UK growth and prosperity will falter without a better grasp of social science, especially in the service sector of the economy where understanding human behaviour and public attitudes is vital. The paper also calls for a new senior Whitehall Social Science Adviser to work alongside Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser.

The report written by a working group of expert practitioners and social scientists across disciplines highlights the challenges and prospects for social science in the UK over the next decade. The authoritative report outlines 7 recommendations as to how to better support, promote and sustain the valuable contribution of social sciences in the UK. These are:

  1. Investment – the 2015 spending review should pledge real growth terms for science and innovation over the lifetime of the next parliament.
  2. Research Priorities – the Nurse Review, ESRC and the Newton Fund need to better recognise and support the indispensable contribution of social sciences to cross-disciplinary research, promotion and impact.
  3. Funding initiatives – dual support system for scientific research and scholarship need to be maintained and funding councils should allow researchers to submit outputs to more than one assessment panel to support interdisciplinary ways of working.
  4. Students – loans for taught masters’ degrees must ensure fair access to the social sciences. International students should also be considered when deciding targets to reduce net migration and practices must be put in place to support the next generation of social science researchers.
  5. Strategy – new strategic framework for the social sciences should be produced by the Government Chief Scientific Advisor, supported by a reconstituted UK Strategic Forum for the Social Sciences. Appropriate areas of strategic priority for the next five years also need to be identified.
  6. Data – strategy must embrace collection and analysis of data by ONS and the devolved statistics agencies. The report further urges the Government to carry forward the Cabinet office’s work on creating a statutory presumption in favour of sharing deidentified public data for research purposes.
  7. Government and Social Science – A new ‘chief social scientist’ appointment needs to be made to supply social science perspectives on institutions behaviour and data. Social science advisors to the Westminster Parliament and the legislative bodies in devolved administrations also need to be strengthened.

Speaking of the report’s publication SAGE’s Global Publishing Director and newly appointed CfSS Board member Ziyad Marar remarked:

“This initiative makes a tremendous contribution to the debate around the value of social science which needs to be highlighted ahead of the General Election and subsequent Autumn Spending Review. The impact of social science research is often misunderstood or narrowly construed and The Business of People will be pivotal in helping to ensure that the true significant of social science is widely understood. We at SAGE are delighted to have worked so closely with the Campaign to publish this timely report, and on a personal front, I was proud to be part of the working group involved in its drafting.”

James Wilsdon, CfSS Chair further commented:

“The report clearly lays out how important social science is to Britain’s future. The voices of social scientists are often narrowly heard and it is the Campaign’s mission to ensure that we speak up for the social sciences, especially ahead of the election. This is a goal that is closely aligned with that of our publishing partners and major sponsor SAGE. We are delighted to have worked with them to publish this authoritative report. It is our joint aim that this report will go to illustrate the vital work of social sciences, and highlight that without more investment in this field, the UK will lose out.”

The full report and executive summary can be accessed here. Join in the conversation on Twitter at @SAGE_News and @CfSocialScience using the hashtag #bizofpeople