What does the Autumn Budget mean for Smart Transport, Cities and Energy?

This years’ Budget had a strong focus on digital, identifying as a priority how the UK can seize the opportunity and maintain its position at the forefront of the tech revolution.

With a raft of policy and funding announcements that strike at the core of innovation across multiple markets the future looks bright. Below you will find further detail on Budget Announcements as they relate to techUK’s Internet of Things and SmarterUK programmes.

Click here to view techUK’s deputy CEO, Antony Walker comment.

Cross Sectoral

Amongst a number of ground breaking approaches to regulatory frameworks to support AI and driverless cars the Chancellor announced a Regulators’ Pioneer Fund. The new £10 million fund seeks to unlock the potential of emerging technologies, supporting regulators to develop innovative approaches aimed at getting new products and services to market. This builds on the already successful sandbox approaches of the FCA and Ofgem.

In support of infrastructure investment, the Budget announced a boost to the National Productivity Investment Fund – now at £31bn. Targeting new funds to areas crucial for productivity such as housing, transport, R&D and digital communications. Government made a further commitment to disrupting how we deliver infrastructure by pledging £80m to opening up the UK’s geospatial data, working with Ordnance Survey to open up the OS MasterMap. 

To support the companies who will deliver this future the Chancellor set out an action plan to support growth in innovative business including £2.3bn in R&D support for innovative technologies, unlocking over £20bn of patient capital investment over the next 10 years, and an increase in R&D tax credits to 12%.

With AI at the heart of our economy going forward Government has also confirmed the creation of a new centre for Data Ethics and Innovation. The new centre will focus on enabling safe, ethical and ground-breaking innovation in AI and data-driven technologies. Supporting wider innovation across the board including within the Internet of Things.

Smart Transport

The Budget saw several announcements supporting the future of UK transport with £35bn spend allocated for 2018-19.

The Chancellor has maintained the commitment to modernising the UK rail network with £84m for digital signalling. Building on £450m allocated in 2016 to trial new technologies.

We welcome the announcement of £30m to trial new solutions on the TransPennine route to improve mobile and digital connectivity for rail passengers. Through our Rail Connectivity Forum, techUK is continuing to work alongside the rail industry to realise untapped opportunities from improved (digital) connectivity, promoting innovative applications and services that can exploit new connectivity.

With a nod to autonomous vehicles and further regulatory announcements to follow it is important that we have a realistic focus on investment in existing infrastructure on which those vehicles will run. We welcome the announcements of a new NIC innovation prize - Roads for the Future -to determine how future roadbuilding should adapt to support self-driving cars.

Investment in transport is crucial to a strong and resilient economy. The government is right to ensure investment is future proofed by looking towards digital.

Smart Cities & Communities

The Budget set out a clear agenda for improved investment in urban areas, including investment in not just services but also infrastructure to help Local Authorities better meet public needs in the future.

Under new measures Local Authorities will be able to take advantage of a £1.7bn Transforming Cities Fund focused on improving transport within cities, £1bn in investment support for high value infrastructure, and a £190 million Challenge Fund aimed at encouraging faster rollout of full-fibre networks. This commitment to local infrastructure build will enable cities to take advantage of the data revolution. Providing a framework for cities to develop IoT-enabled solutions to better manage challenges and build economic opportunities.

The Government has also announced new support for companies working in the public sector. A new GovTech Catalyst is to be launched, giving businesses and innovators a clear access point to government, helping them to navigate government and collaborate to solve public sector challenges. Our recent publication Top Actions to Accelerate IoT Implementation identifies the need for challenge based procurement. With this new Catalyst we may very well have the body who can help deliver the shakeup. Industry will further be bolstered by a £20m GovTech Fund.


The Budget was relatively light on energy this time round, with most announcements hitting at environmental considerations instead of technology. Key announcements included:

    • No new low carbon electricity levies until 2025
    • £557m for further Contracts for Difference
    • The Total Carbon Price (currently the total of EU ETS and Carbon Price Support was deemed to be at the right level, and will be at a similar price until unabated coal is phased out
    • The First Year Tax Credit scheme will be extended until 2022, to help loss making firms invest in energy efficient tech.

One announcement worth noting however is the upcoming update of the Energy Technology List, a government list of energy saving technologies eligible for Enhanced Capital Allowances. This is an ask we put to government back in September as part of our work on the Clean Growth Strategy. There is no detail yet on how the list will be changing but over the coming months we will continue to work with Government on how we ensure the right status of new ‘smart’ technologies under efficiency policy.

Read further content regarding the Autumn Budget: 

>>techUK Responds to 2017 Autumn Budget


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