Good news, you would think. EPSRC put it down to the success of their blacklisting policy (although they don't call it that: to them it will forever be the 'Policy for Repeatedly Unsuccessful Applicants'). This limits those who have had three or more rejections, or have been in the bottom half of the prioritisation list, in a two year period and have a personal success rate of less than 25%, to only submitting one application in the subsequent year. With me so far?
However, Jump quotes two academics who suggest that the success of the policy is debatable: Ian Walmsley suggested that applications are down across the research councils (although this seems to run counter to Jump's piece on the ESRC), and David Price claimed that the policy was deterring weak and strong applications alike.
Whilst it's clear that Jump is a glass-half-empty kind of a guy, I agree that EPSRC's news should be greeted with caution. The Council has recently been in the headlines about it's - ahem - 'consultation', which suggested cutting funding to a number of disciplines within its remit. This has been met by horror in the sector, and has left David 'Derek Smalls' Delpy crying into his beer and saying that it wasn't really a consultation anyway.
Cutting both the number of disciplines and the number of eligible individuals within the remaining disciplines will, eventually, lead to a success rate of 100% for the Council. Hurray! Their work will be complete. Or certainly will be until this plummets back to 0% as there'll be no-one eligible left to apply.