The UK government ploughs £4.6 billion a year into science and research programmes. Currently, decisions about how this money is spent are left largely up to the scientific community themselves, with the government determining how much of the budget is allocated to different sectors of science. Government funds are apportioned to 7 research councils, and panels of experts from the council examine all requests for funding in detail before awarding grants – a process called peer review. The principle that scientific experts are the best positioned to decide which projects deserve cash – the so called ‘Haldane principle’ – has been at the cornerstone of scientific policy for decades. However, the peer review process often happens behind closed doors, with little discussion with the public about how funding should be directed. In recent times, with many controversial scientific breakthroughs hitting the headlines, there are increasing calls for the public to be more involved in the decision making process. So, how much say should the public have in what science is conducted using their hard-earned taxpayer pounds? And how is public engagement with science changing?