The announced parliamentary grant-in-aid for 2005/2006 is £660,000 (Resource Funding) and £6,000 (Capital), substantially less than that required to maintain the present level of activity in the long term. The amount is the same in cash terms as in 2003/2004, and the very significant cut in the Observatory's projected grant-in-aid puts many of the medium to long-term aims and objectives of the Observatory at risk. In particular, because a high fraction of the Observatory's overall running costs is related to core items such as salaries and fixed costs such as heat, light, power, insurance etc., the announced funding for 2005/2006 will put severe strain on the Observatory's ability to maintain its planned programmes of research, outreach and public understanding of science for 2005 and beyond. Such treatment of a scientific institution which has demonstrated a decade of significantly improved performance flies in the face of Government policies that aim to increase spending on science and on programmes to encourage young people to consider careers in the traditional `hard' sciences.
The allocated funds will be directed towards achieving the following principal objectives during 2005/2006, namely to:
The key task for the year is to obtain a stable level of core funding and to obtain resources to secure the recruitment of additional research staff. This is to maintain current activity and to lay a strong foundation for the forthcoming Research Assessment Exercise (2002-2007), which has a census date 31 October 2007.