Sector looks to Budget Day for long-term help

techUK says we need more support for innovation, technical education in schools and in every day life, new thinking on work visas and a pre-Brexit ICO boost. Will Number 11 give us any of this wish list this afternoon, though?

Posted 8 March 2017 at 9:27am by

With only a few hours left before our last-ever Spring Budget, the UK IT sector’s hoping that the Chancellor’s Red Box will have some pleasant surprises in it.

techUK, for example, the tare body that speaks for the nation’s technology supplier base, says it wants x in its just-published wish-list for Philip Hammond.

The organisation’s Policy Director, Charlotte Holloway, says there are a number of areas where Number 11 can boost the UK’s tech credentials this afternoon.

These should include, she and her team believe, more financial support for robots, AI (artificial intelligence) and other “revolutionary technologies” – but such support has to be structured in such as way that there are commercialisation opportunities so as to help the UK’s world leading universities “create high-value spinoffs”.

Holloway also wants a national commitment to at least 3% of UK GDP to spent on R&D to help the UK “punch above our weight in a post-Brexit world”, as well as more support for technical education.

That technical education should not include the floated ideas of Hammond’s so-called ‘T-Levels,’ she writes, but also  an additional £50m to support continual professional development for British teachers around the delivery of the computing curriculum, as well as clear direction on helping end the digital divide.

The group also says the sector could really benefit from fresh thinking on allowing more international talent to come and work in the UK, as well as on business rates.

Smart infrastructure integration, and other issues get a mention, with perhaps the most intriguing idea out of techUK today being a call to “boost the UK’s capacity to deal with emerging data issues”.

“The UK’s environment for data utilisation and legislation has a busy period ahead, and the UK’s regulation environment is set for a challenging environment,” she writes.

“We’d like to see increased funding for the Information Commissioner’s Office to help UK businesses to both prepare for implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will come into force before the UK leaves the European Union.”

Holloway’s logic is that such a signal would help to enhance the ICO’s reputation as a leading independent regulatory voice on how data will underpin the new wave of international trade deals with key markets, including the EU.

“Tackling the big challenges and realising the opportunities facing the country will mean that the Chancellor must harness the dynamism and vibrancy of the UK tech market,” Holloway notes.

Here’s hoping that at least some of these proposals get a listening.