Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, unveiled his final budget before the general election with some great news for tech. Here’s our summary of today’s big announcements.
The Budget took place today, announced in the House of Commons by Chancellor George Osborne. Today’s Budget announcement heralds a huge win for the digital economy, as the Chancellor announced an impressive package of measures that will affect our industry in multiple ways.
- The budget set out a bold new ambition for ultrafast broadband of at least 100 Megabits per second to become available to nearly all UK homes and businesses
- Goals include removing barriers to investment in ultrafast broadband and a reduction in red tape, including reviewing planning rules and encouraging innovative approaches in street works
- Funding the delivery of superfast broadband by satellite in the hardest to reach areas
- Supporting broadband delivery in rural areas, including looking to raise the Universal Service Obligation to 5 Megabits per second
- Providing free wifi in public libraries and make broadband connection voucher scheme available in 28 additional cities across the UK by 1 April, bringing the total to 50;
- Provide up to £600m to clear spectrum bands for use by 4G mobile networks
- Centralise the operational management of public sector spectrum, and resetting the release target
- Ofcom will review of the telecommunications market, the first in 10 years.
Providing support to key digital sectors and regions
- £40m to catalyse the development of the Internet of Things – described by the Chancellor as the “next stage of the information revolution” – through demonstrator programmes, business incubator space and a research hub
- £100m funding for R&D into driverless cars, driving innovation the Britain’s automotive industry
- The Chancellor also promised to review how disruptive technology should be allowed to flourish with less regulation in the next parliament
- An ambitious package of support for the sharing economy including:
- £700k for ‘sharing city’ pilots in Manchester and Leeds
- The removal of red tape to make it easier for people to share assets through platforms such as Airbnb
- The promotion of task-sharing platforms such as TaskRabbit for new businesses.
- Great news for the booming UK FinTech sector as the government made further commitments around promising to work with banks and FinTech firms to have a framework set out for an open API standard by the end of 2015. This will allow companies to utilise data from banks to improve services for the consumer
- Digital currencies were also mentioned, with the government renewing its focus on alternative modes of payment as the digital economy grows in scope and scale
- A further pledge of support for high growth companies through “changes to the Enterprise Investment Schemes and Venture Capital Trusts to ensure they are compliant with the latest state aid rules and increasing support to high growth companies”
- £11m for Tech Nation Entrepreneur Hubs in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, to support digital start-ups and link them up with investors
- Further to the investment into the three tech hubs in the North of England was the announcement that the Government Digital Service will work directly with local government organisations – an encouraging move towards digital delivery of public services
- £10m to research the technology underpinning digital currencies, which will bring industry together with the research councils, Alan Turing Institute and the Digital Catapult
With 1.46 million people in digital employment across the country, the importance of the digital economy has been recognised by this significant package of measures.
You can read the Budget 2015 in full here.