Theresa May to announce science and research investment boost

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Theresa May is reportedly set to announce a funding boost for science and research ahead of the Autumn Statement.

The Prime Minister will use a Monday speech at the CBI annual conference to set out plans to make the UK a world leader in science, innovation and technology investment, according to the Financial Times.

It will come ahead of Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement mini-Budget on Wednesday, when he is expected to announce measures to shore up the economy after the Brexit vote.

Ministers have already ditched former chancellor George Osborne's plans to generate a budget surplus by 2020, and Mr Hammond is reportedly set to acknowledge a £100 billion black hole in the public finances as a result of slower than expected growth and lower investment following the vote to leave the EU.

Mrs May will hope plans to invest in research and science provide a boost to ease some of the economic concerns around Brexit.

According to the FT, she will tell the CBI: "We are ambitious for Britain to become the global go-to place for scientists, innovators and tech investors."

The PM will also seek to take on critics who see her interventionist approach as anti-business.

She will say: "When the Chancellor delivers the Government's Autumn Statement on Wednesday, he will lay out an agenda that is unashamedly pro-business."

Mr Hammond is also set to announce measures to help families who are "just about managing".

They will put into practice Mrs May's stated wish on taking office to help those who "have a job but don't always have job security" and worry about the cost of living.

According to the Times, ministers are also examining proposals to inject money into the Universal Credit welfare scheme in order to mitigate or reverse previous cuts.

Former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith quit his cabinet job in March, complaining that Treasury "salami slicing" of the Universal Credit budget was undermining it.

Jeremy Corbyn will also speak to the CBI on Monday as part of a concerted Labour push to build links with business.

A Treasury spokeswoman said: "­­­­­We do not comment on speculation around the Autumn Statement."

According to The Sun, Mr Hammond will also use his Autumn Statement to announce another freeze in fuel duty until at least April 2018.