Government announces new Digital Strategy

  • techUK techUK
    Thursday25Jun 2020
    News

    Today, Secretary of State for Digital Oliver Dowden announced Government plans to publish a new Digital Strategy this Autumn

The need for a new Digital Strategy, the last one was only published in 2017, points to the long-term reverberations we are likely to experience from the COVID crisis. There is a strong, and welcome impetus from Government to prepare the UK to not only absorb the shock but recover and reinvent stronger than ever before.

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In his speech, the Secretary of State recognised the enormous digital transformations we have seen in the midst of a public health and economic crisis. With over half the UK’s workforce continuing to work from home and public services moving online, for example, doctor’s appointments, it is clear that tech has “kept our economy ticking over”. As we recover and reopen there will be no overnight return to ‘normal’ but a ‘new normal’. The Government is right to question whether we should ever go back to the ‘old way of doing things’ and the upcoming Digital Strategy is an opportunity to plot out a new path.

techUK believes that key to the success of a new Digital Strategy will be the ability to ensure that every region is included so that the recovery is levelled up right across our United Kingdom. Digital capacity and capabilities in the regions should be strengthened so that communities, towns and cities across the country can benefit more equally from the digital economy.

To this end, techUK has recently launched a programme of engagement in regions across the UK to hear first-hand how the crisis has impacted each region and how technology can play its role in the recovery. Driven by the enthusiasm from our members to listen and learn techUK has started (virtually for now) travelling up and down the country, and we look forward to sharing findings later this year. 

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In his speech, the Secretary of State outlines four areas for action:

  1. Securing an adequacy agreement with the European Union and creating the best data regime possible. A nod was given to the forthcoming National Data Strategy which we hope will allow us to leverage open data to inform, invent and inspire new ideas. 
  2. Creating a highly-skilled digital workforce. The Secretary of State sketched out the need for a new, modern ‘GI bill’ which gave American veterans the skills to find new work after WW2. techUK believes this ambition is mission-critical and call on the Government to be bold and radical to deliver the change we need.
  3. Building world-class, next-generation infrastructure. The UK’s gigabit ambition is the right one, we now need Government to come forward with detailed plans to support an outside-in approach and ensure this is a priority at every level of Government. 
  4. Ensuring a regulatory regime that is pro-competition and pro-innovation. Regulation that touches digital has become too fragmented and incoherent as more actors occupy this space. techUK welcomes a recognition from Government that there is a need to avoid “unnecessary layers” of regulation and ensure there is a coherent and consistent approach to drive growth.

These actions form the pillars to build the future we need.

  • Vinous Ali

    Vinous Ali

    Associate Director for Policy
    T 07595 410 658

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