techUK has published its asks ahead of the Budget on Wednesday, calling on Philip Hammond MP to make the structural changes needed to prepare the economy for the future before the oppertunity is lost to Brexit.
techUK has warned that uncertainty around Brexit means that tech companies need to see a budget that sets the UK on the right economic path to create the jobs and growth of the future. With less than 500 days to go until Brexit, the Budget risks being the last opportunity to get businesses of all sectors and sizes ready to compete in the wider world.
techUK’s proposals contain measures to support small businesses to digitise to support productivity growth, clarity on the Government’s support for R&D and a significant package of support for digital skills are seen by the tech industry as vital if the Government is to properly prepare for a post-Brexit future.
Commenting on the Budget submission, Julian David, CEO of techUK, said:
“All businesses are facing increased uncertainty and an urgent need to get their houses in order ahead of whatever is thrown at them post-Brexit. This budget must give certainty, where little currently exists, by setting out a clear path to provide business with the tools they need for the future. The Chancellor has said he wants to put the UK at ‘the forefront of the global technology revolution’. Now is the time to make good on that desire.
“That means getting more businesses to adopt basic digital processes that will enable them to take advantage of future productivity boosters like AI and prepare for new digital mechanism of taxation. It also means setting a clear path to meet the Government’s commitment to increase R&D spending, at a time when many businesses are already feeling the pinch from uncertainty around EU programmes like Horizon 2020.
“Tech businesses are global by nature, and many won’t simply wait around forever. Progress is needed on Brexit, and this budget is a golden opportunity for the Government to show that it is truly able to prepare the UK for our future outside the EU.”
In its submission, techUK called for the Government to:
- Support UK SMEs to digitise to increase productivity, through measures to help smaller companies to put in place basic digital tools to unlock future productivity boosters such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning – the UK risks falling behind in digitisation across industries, putting at risk a potential £18.8 billion in revenue growth for SMEs that could be unlocked.
- Protect small and micro businesses from cyber threats, by creating a Cyber Security Voucher support scheme to help businesses secure Cyber Essentials certification - one in five companies experienced a breech last year with small businesses facing costs of £65,000 - £115,000.
- Create a roadmap for R&D spending to reach the Government’s 2.4% target. With uncertainty over Horizon 2020 and other EU programmes, the Government needs to set out a clear path to meet its manifesto goal of spending 2.4% of GDP on R&D within the decade, starting with a plan to significantly ramp up public funding for research.
- Ensure the UK is supporting digital skills. With the risk of Brexit making it harder to recruit from abroad, significant investment into upskilling the UK workforce for the next generation of jobs is needed, including by:
o Providing additional resources to the Digital Skills Partnership to develop new programmes of support.
o Giving companies greater flexibility in the Apprenticeship Levy to ensure that they can train people in the skills that businesses really need.
o Providing incentives to help companies support and reskill workers returning to the sector.
- Provide support with energy costs to UK data centres, giving our world leading data centres the same support given to other energy intensive industries, such as steel, in order to ensure they remain globally competitive.