Regarding the UK government research policy:
It is worrying to see the stance of the UK government on this important issue, however they might protest that no-one will be disadvantaged. All of academic research cannot, to fulfil its full functional potential, be made to oblige under typically short-sighted or simply ill-defined socio-economic cost-benefit analyses. A crucial part of academic research is that of re-imagining the frameworks within which society operates. If reduced to a set of cogs in the already-existing machine, the crucial function of creating new machines (or whichever analogy may appeal to the reader) will be significantly hampered.
At a time in history when creative transformation is crucial to our survival, traditional universities and their researchers should be allowed and encouraged to foster new, sustainable solutions as freely as possible. I fear that the direction suggested by the UK government will rather align funded research to a vision of technocratic tinkering with a fundamentally unsustainable system, and we shall all be the poorer for it - whatever economic impact analyses may proclaim. Let's not waste our creative potential that way.