Despite pre-election vows to make the UK the “technology centre of Europe”, government serves up virtually nothing for British tech industry
Virtually no technology policies were revealed in Chancellor George Osborne’s 2015 Summer Budget, despite the Conservatives’ promising to make the UK the “technology centre of Europe” ahead of the party’s General Election win in May.
A lower 18 percent rate of corporation tax, an increase in the compulsory living wage to £9 an hour, and new funding for HMRC to close tax loopholes and fight avoidance will impact technology firms, as well a new apprenticeship levy and the abolition of maintenance grants in favour of loans for university students.
Osborne expressed a desire to re-balance the national economy away from London to other parts of the country through the establishment of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’.
As part of this, the government will invest £23 million in six ‘next generation digital economy centres’ in London, Swansea, Newcastle, Nottingham, York and Bath, yet no mention of this was made in the Chancellor’s speech to the House of Commons.
“These centres will exploit opportunities across sectors of the digital economy including the creative industries, finance, healthcare and education,” read the budget document, which also outlined a desire to continue the digitalisation of public services.
The deal reached with the BBC, as revealed by Culture Secretary John Whittingdale earlier this week, was also confirmed. The corporation will fund free licences for over-75s in exchange for requiring those who watch catch-up services to need a licence and to increase the fee in line with inflation.
The licence fee will no longer be ‘top-sliced’ to pay for superfast broadband rollout and there was barely a single mention about communications, despite vague pledges for ultrafast broadband in the Conservative manifesto.
The sole instance was a pledge to allocate an additional £10 million to fibre rollout in the South West of England, to fund local projects, with priority given to those that can deliver 100Mbps or faster.
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