The Budget, Public Sector, Technology And SMEs

Mar 20, 2014

While yesterday’s Budget began with the good news that Britain’s economy is on the road to recovery, it’s time to consider how Chancellor George Osborne’s announcements will affect SMEs and the public sector.

Osborne introduced the latest Budget as one for the “makers, doers and savers.”

Measures affecting UK businesses include:

  • corporation tax will drop from 28% to 21% in two weeks, then to 20% next year and employees under 21 will be exempt
  • government direct lending to businesses to promote exports has been increased to £3bn while interest rates have been cut by a third
  • business discounts and enhanced allowances in capital enterprise zones have been extended for three years – high streets stores will be better off by £1000
  • “every business in the country” will have the first £2000 removed from their National Insurance bill
  • the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme for start-ups is permanent.

As is to be expected, reactions across the country have been mixed.

“The Budget will put wind in the sails of business investment, especially for manufacturers,” claimed business lobbying organisation CBI.

“The economy needs to rebalance and this Budget will help businesses hungry to invest and export,” it added.

Meanwhile, others are a little more wary.

“Despite the increasingly positive outlook, there are still considerable challenges and pressures in the public sector,” said Richard Bennett, managing director at telecommunications company Updata Infrastructure.

The new Budget means a continued squeeze on Whitehall – Osborne has promised the government will be continuing its efficiency drive and Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, has been charged with delivering a new programme for savings during 2016-17 in time for 2014’s Autumn Statement.

Savings are likely to be achieved via the government’s digital agenda. It has been revealed HMRC’s IT systems are being updated and the roll-out of Universal Credit will continue, for example.

One announcement that has gained significant attention is the new Alan Turing Institute, a large centre for Big Data research, named after the World War II codebreaker who is often heralded as the father of modern computing.

“The investment of £42m is a powerful signal to businesses, academic institutions and investors to sit up and realise Big Data isn’t just a term coined by the technology world, but that it represents a real opportunity for UK businesses to gain value from the abundance of data being created in a digital and connected world,” claimed professional services provider KMPG’s head of digital and analytics, Alwin Magimay.

This new project aims to make the UK a world leader in the area, with the Chancellor welcoming Turing’s posthumous pardon and claiming the country will once again excel in this area.

Although the location and staffing numbers are currently unknown, the new institute is likely to boost the economy and create new jobs - a move welcomed by the IT industry.




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