General Election 2015: How Will The Conservatives’ Victory Impact UK Tech?

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We ask the industry how the Conservative’s General Election victory will impact tech firms, cybersecurity, communications, public sector IT and startups

After months and weeks of speculation about the result of the 2015 General Election, the UK electorate has voted for a Conservative majority in the House of Commons.

With no coalition deals to contend with, the Tories can press ahead with implementing their manifesto, but what does this mean for the UK technology industry.

We asked a number of tech firms how they feel the result will impact the UK tech industry as a whole, cybersecurity, communications, public sector IT and startups

The UK technology industry

Antony Walker, Deputy CEO of techUK

David Cameron with iPad featured“The future of the UK depends on a strong, tech enabled economy and tech companies will be encouraged by signs of political certainty provided by today’s outcome.

“The Conservative party has demonstrated a solid track record on tech and the digital economy across the UK. The new government must look to build on those achievements to make the UK a world leader in the next wave of the digital revolution.”

Brendan Flattery, president of Europe for Sage

“The North is home to a wide talent pool of skilled businesspeople and entrepreneurs but it’s not just transport infrastructure that can help unlock business potential. The UK also needs to keep technology infrastructure like broadband top of mind. We’ve had the industrial revolution and the electrical revolution, currently we are in the midst of a technology revolution.

“There has been a concerted effort to create a new Silicon Valley in London, which is fantastic for the UK, but why stop at London? To allow the next generation of entrepreneurs to realise their aspirations and grow their businesses the country needs to expand its investment to focus on technology skills and infrastructure beyond the capital.

“The Conservatives promised to put into £790 million into broadband and mobile, but what is vital is that the small business agenda remains a top priority and the UK continues to remain an attractive place to start and run a business. Cutting red tape, ensuring access to finance and decent broadband speeds are key as well as tackling the shameful and pervasive late payments practise that goes on.”

Ian Tomlinson, CEO of Cybertill

“A majority gives the markets certainty and confidence, irrespective of party, so that is a good thing for all businesses.

“But as the Conservatives have secured a majority, even though it is paper thin, they have promised a referendum on Europe to ascertain if the country wants to stay in or leave. This will bring huge uncertainty to all businesses and not just technology firms. Being in the EU gives British business access to the world’s largest free trade area. If we leave, this makes doing business with the EU more expensive and leaves the country with no bargaining power around EU rules and regulations. Until we know for sure if Britain will stay in, this will continue to affect the market’s confidence in Britain and its currency.

“In addition, the government should fast track the roll out of super-fast broadband across ALL areas of the country. Broadband is the ‘critical utility’ for businesses in the 21st century, without it, they will not be able to prosper and grow.”

Cybersecurity

Raj Samani, EMEA CTO Intel Security

Houses of Parliament featured“Retraining police officers to be more cyber savvy is an absolute necessity. Cybercrime needs to be treated with the same level of severity as physical criminality. It’s a sinister and malicious crime that needs to be proactively pursued and addressed.

“Relying on volunteers and training the police force is one element – but this needs to extend to better public and private sector partnerships if we are to truly tackle cybercrime head on. The recent collaboration between Intel Security, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), the Dutch authorities, the U.S FBI, and other private sector partners to take down criminal infrastructure supporting a ‘polymorphic’ botnet called Beebone is one example of collaboration in action. But if we are to seek out and target threats in real-time, closer ties between the public and private sector is key.

“It’s also important to remember that perpetrators may be attacking from beyond these shores – it’s a global crime, which requires a global solution. Consequently, the new government needs to consider how it can better work with international governments to defeat cybercrime.”

“If we are to keep up the pace of innovation, educating the next generation of entrepreneurs is key, but beyond general technology skills, there also needs to be a specific focus on cyber security. We need to create a framework for cyber security education in order to breed the future experts in this space, who will be able to tackle the threats of the future.”

Communications

Paul Carter, CEO of GWS

“While some will be dismayed that the Conservatives have not only remained in power, but have solidified their power in government, this should be good news for everyone who owns a mobile phone. The Tories have spent the last 5 years grappling with the state of our mobile networks and are working with network operators to ensure our mobile networks evolve fast enough to keep apace with our increasingly internet-connected lives.

“From pushing for Wi-Fi on trains, laying the groundwork for 5G networks and reforming outdated legislation like the Electronic Communications Code, David Cameron’s Tories understands what needs to be done and now they have a flying start to fixing these problems over the next 5 years.”

“This does not mean that the Government is doing enough. Pushing operators to meet their target of 90% network coverage of UK landmass is good, but what is missing is an emphasis on quality and reliability of voice, text and data signal, and any sort of checks on mobile Internet speed. It is all well and good being able to get a signal, but if you are unable to hear the person on the other end of the line, is it really better than no signal at all? The Government is in a strong position to push network operators to create the best network for the UK and potentially one of the best networks in Europe.”

Public sector IT

Georgina O’Toole, Research Director at TechMarketView

government parliament big ben public sector bus clouds © CristinaMuraca Shutterstock government parliament big ben public sector bus clouds © CristinaMuraca Shutterstock“Based on the forecasts, no-one could have predicted that we would be sat here on the verge of a Conservative majority in this General Election. Regardless of what you think of the result, for the suppliers to the public sector software and IT services market, the fact that it brings early certainty will be welcomed. Without a majority Government, we would have seen many weeks of uncertainty and likely delays in decisions around major Government projects. We will soon be revisiting our UK public sector SITS market forecasts; this result makes our job far easier.”

Helen Sutton, managing director for Unit4, UK & Ireland

“When in power the coalition rightly identified technology as a means to address the deficit by helping the public sector to do more with less. With this election result I expect the good work of the Cabinet Office to continue. There will be a continued light shone on the inflexible and larger suppliers who in many instances offer taxpayers and public sector employees little value. My big hope is to see more focus on digitising the back-office so that it is in line with the digital-by-default policy on the frontline – getting the two to work together would truly achieve transformational change for the good of the country.”

Startups

Andrew Hull, strategy director for Pocket App

“The rise of tech cities all over the UK has been great but it is still a very difficult environment for innovative start-ups. The Conservatives pledged to cut red tape for businesses and I hope they will extend this to set up free enterprise zones – start up zones aimed at small businesses, operating in a tax free environment with no corporation tax or business rates to pay for 5 years.  It would enable technology clusters to develop and reduce the tax burden on entrepreneurs and growing businesses so they can fully invest in creating the next Google or Facebook. “

“I would also like to see them deregulate internet access further for both businesses and consumers.  We were operating in Soho, Central London, for several years, and the fastest line we could get from the existing infrastructure was limited to 10MB.  Eventually we had to pay for our own leased line to be installed at a huge cost; something you would never expect in the centre of our capital city.”

“As a tech development company, we are on a constant search for developers and coders but there is a distinct shortage of coding skills, particularly amongst women. The UK needs investment into STEM education to place coding, along with entrepreneurship, on the national curriculum.”

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