Ahead of this afternoon’s budget announcement by George Osbourne, scheduled to start at 12.15pm, various industry experts have offered their analysis on what to expect and what it may mean for the technology industry.
“In the previous budget George Osborne announced support for the wider sharing economy including making it easier for individuals to sub let their homes. I would like to see this go one step further to support this industry by including tax incentives to support the purchasing of larger capital expenditure required to support the infrastructure needed by a growing on-demand business.
George Osborne also announced the piloting of ‘sharing cities’ in Leeds and Manchester and I would personally like to see this project expanded. By adding local support for the growth of on-demand businesses, this will help form local hubs to facilitate the nationwide expansion of both “sharing” and “on-demand” services.
We’d also like to see a pledge on the continuing rollout of mobile 4G connectivity which still only covers approximately 55 per cent of the UK as well as substantial speed increases from the average of around 15 Mbps and a continuation of the drop in 4G price plans.”
“We have seen some action from the government in the spring budget in support of creating an IT infrastructure that enables innovation. The chancellor announced plans for a £140 million fund for supporting research into the Internet of Things, driverless cars and smart cities. This is exciting on the surface, but in terms of helping businesses grow and develop, this falls short of business practicality that SMEs with smaller resources require. Public sector investment would be better spent in ensuring that fast Internet connections and support structure are a standard – this will help to support the growing trends of flexible and remote working.
“London seems to be in a better position than other developing tech hubs in the UK, and rightly so – it is the flagship for all things tech in the UK. However, Birmingham and Manchester have developed into hubs of technology and business innovation in the last few years, and they require the same amount of support, if not more, from the government in realising their potential.
“Greater investment into the IT infrastructure of the main cities in the UK from the government can attract the attentions of foreign investors. This will only help in continuing the strong surge that our economy has experiencsed in the last couple of years.”
“George Osborne said that he would take the unusual step of another budget to ensure that our economy is productive and on the right footing for the long term. For him to realise his ambition, there are two key elements SMBs will be hoping he will tackle. The first is late payments – which, recently, has been placed firmly in the limelight within the retail industry.
“Late payments paralyse growth and innovation at a grass roots level. I hope to hear something on Wednesday about the promised Small Business Conciliation service as well as a measure that incentivises larger companies to treat their suppliers better.”
“Secondly, SMBs need help with their technology investments. They are the power house of our economy and they need the infrastructure to scale. Given that technology is also a pet project of the Government, arguably tax relief should extend to SMBs that want to invest in technology to help their business grow. This obviously needs careful thought around its application but, in principal, it is a measure that could make a tangible difference and provide mutual benefit to two economically important sectors.”
“Osborne wants to put the UK economy on the right footing for the long term, so to do that he needs to ensure that measures aren’t focused on London alone. Up and down the UK start-ups and SMEs are driving growth at a macro and micro level, yet there is a disproportionate number of start up communities in London.
“Much of the network that originally supported us was regional and has now been shut down – DataSift was originally funded by Finance South East. It would be great to see more investment in regional hubs.
“In line with this, and to improve the overall environment in which start-ups work, it would be good to see favourable taxation and other measures that help small companies to accelerate their growth. The Entrepreneurs Relief, for example, is a great incentive and it would be good to see this increased.”
“The central focus within the public sector is already on driving down long-term IT spend, with Wednesday’s Emergency Budget expected to announce further cuts to advance the Government’s austerity drive, this focus will become even sharper. More than ever before, every penny spent on technology in the public sector must be shown to represent value – from local councils to schools to the NHS, tech will need to ‘do more for less’ to deliver the savings required.
“I’d also expect that spending cuts, coupled with the Government’s existing ‘digital by default’ agenda, will see increased value placed on the role that technology can play in realising cost savings.
“With Wednesday’s budget set to place even greater demands on public sector spending, now is the time to assess how technology can make organisations more lean and efficient, and improve the quality of public services.”