Cancer Research UK has announced further catastrophic cuts in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, slashing £45 million from its research budget, leaving dozens of potential life-saving projects and hundreds of world-class scientists unfunded.
This move follows an earlier £44 million cut made to current grants at the start of the pandemic, and the charity saying it would not be able to fund any new clinical trials this year.
The new cuts have led to 24 fewer research programmes, 68 fewer projects and 12 fewer fellowships, and CR UK says there will be around 328 fewer researchers working on their research.
The charity stresses that these cuts to the research portfolio “will not only slow down future breakthroughs for people with cancer but could seriously reduce the chances of reaching the charity’s goal of three in four surviving their cancer by 2034.”
The drop in income caused by the pandemic means that around 100 fewer grants will be funded, spanning longer-term multi-million-pound research programmes, specific research projects and fellowships that support scientists at all career stages.
Moreover, the charity said it will have to continue looking at ongoing reductions in other parts of the research budget.
If the situation remains unchanged, CR UK has warned that it could be spending £150 million less per year by 2024 as it faces a potential £300 million decline in fundraising income over the next three years.
“COVID-19 has slowed down our efforts to beat cancer. The closures of our charity shops and the cancellation of our fundraising events across the country means we have less money available for life-saving research, but we will never stop,” said Michelle Mitchell, the charity’s chief executive.
“We have always relied on the generous donations of all our supporters, but we need them now more than ever so we can continue to achieve these ambitions and so that together, we can still beat cancer.”
Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, added: “As a charity, we fund around half of the UK’s publicly funded cancer research. Medical research charities like Cancer Research UK are the life blood of research and development in the UK, and we have all felt the devastating blow of the pandemic on our income.
“The recent Government spending review was a step in the right direction for cancer services in the UK, but we need urgent clarification to what measures are being put in place to support medical research charities through the Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund. As a country that relies so heavily on charity-funded research, the UK risks weakening its reputation as a world-leader in science if charities don’t receive the right support.”