Many of the plans were welcomed by the IT sector. However the chancellor also faced criticism for a lack of focus on digital skills, using technology to improve public services, boosting broadband connectivity and investing in Internet of Things (IoT) research.
Here are a few of the most significant announcements.
1. Support for SMEs
The chancellor made a number of announcements designed to help SMEs. They included plans to double small business rate relief to April 2016, extend tax relief for entrepreneurs and increase R&D tax credits for SMEs to 230 percent. There were also improved tax breaks for investors to encourage them to build up entrepreneurial businesses.
2. Help for postgraduates
Osborne unveiled plans to support postgraduate skills. The government will back loans worth up to £10,000 available for all people under 30 taking taught Masters degrees, which will presumably include IT-related courses.
3. Apprenticeship boost
The chancellor promised to abolish National Insurance contributions for apprentices aged under 25, coming into effect from April 2016. He hopes the move will encourage businesses to take on under-25s and encourage more young people to consider apprenticeships as a route into work. Sector skills council eSkills UK has been a particular champion of apprenticeship schemes in IT.
4. Finance for startups
The chancellor offered support for startups seeking access to cash. The government will provide £400 million to support venture capital through the British Business Bank and provide information to help businesses find alternative sources of finance if bank applications are turned down.
For the fintech sector, the chancellor announced a call for evidence on how APIs [Application Programming Interfaces] could be used in banking and support for Peer to Peer (P2P) and crowdfunding platforms.
The government will provide bad debt relief for P2P lending and will review regulations which currently suppress institutional lending through P2P platforms, he said.
6. Big data
Osborne set out plans to invest £113 million in a big data centre in Hartree, Daresbury. The government said will “enable non-computer specialists to gain insights from big data in order to enhance and design products, services and manufacturing processes”.
The government confirmed that the £42 million Alan Turing big data centre, announced during March’s Budget, will be located in London.
7. Driverless car trials
The government will also provide £9 million to increase a prize fund available for driverless car testbeds, which will be used for trials in Bristol, London, Milton Keynes and Coventry from next year.
The pilots have been backed by Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Tata, who will work with Coventry’s trial team.
8. Investing in entrepreneurs
The government hopes to encourage more investors to build successful entrepreneurial companies by providing tax breaks on capital gains tax.
The government said it would allowing capital tax gains “eligible for Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) and deferred eligible for Entrepreneurs’ Relief (ER) and deferred into investment under the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) or Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) to benefit from ER when the gain is realised”.
This means that the government is offering investors a lower tax rate of 10 percent, instead of the usual 18 or 28 percent level, of capital gains tax paid on profit made when they sell the businesses, a representative for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales explained.