British firms cut up to 7,000 jobs in research and development work during 1996, according to figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics.
Total employment in R&D posts fell from 146,000 people in 1995 to 139,000 last year, a decline of 5%, the ONS said. The total decline in R&D posts since 1990 now stands at 32,000.
There were 80,000 scientists and engineers in research posts during 1996, 3,000 down on 1995.
The figures show a drop in overall R&D expenditure to £9.05bn in 1996 from £9.25bn the year before (at constant 1995 prices).
The region with the largest R&D expenditure was the South East, with 24% of the national total. Eastern England came second, with 22%.
The greatest fall came in the defence sector, where expenditure declined by 9%.
The new Government has been trying to arrest the drop in R&D investment with fiscal measures, including cuts in corporation tax and the abolition of credits on dividend payments to pension funds.
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