In his final pre-election budget this week chancellor George Osborne pledged support for a number of fledgling tech industries, including the Internet of Things, driverless cars, smart cities and the sharing economy.
The chancellor also promised better connectivity, support for fintech and new, digitised public services. We provide a run-down of the top 10 ten tech announcements…
The chancellor promised “ultrafast broadband” of at least 100Mbps to be available to “nearly” all UK premises and said the government would spend £600 million to release spectrum to enhance mobile broadband coverage. However he has been criticised for a lack of detail or deadline for the commitments.
2. Automatic online tax returns
Osborne announced the death knell of annual paper tax returns, set to be replaced by online tax accounts for 50 million individuals and businesses by the end of the next Parliament. HMRC have been working on the project for a while, but experts have warned the new functionality announced by the chancellor may prove complex and difficult to deliver.
3. Digital currencies
The government will invest £10 million into digital currency research as part of wider moves to support the use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, including greater regulation.
4. Internet of Things
The chancellor promised to invest £40 million into Internet of Things (IoT) research, describing it as “the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances”. One of the central elements of the programme will be a ‘smart cities’ demonstrator.
5. Driverless cars
Osborne pledged £100 million to help develop driverless cars in the UK. The funding will be matched by industry. However the government is yet to detail exactly where the money will be spent or whether it will go toward the three current driverless car projects taking place in London, Bristol and Milton Keynes at the moment.
6. Sharing economy
The chancellor announced a raft of initiatives designed to boost the ‘sharing economy’ sector, including piloting ‘sharing cities’ in Leeds and Manchester. The government also said it plans to introduce legislation to make it easier for individuals to sub-let a room or rent out parking spaces.
7. Open APIs in banking
The government has promised to create an open application programming interfaces (APIs) standard for banks. It says the move will spur competition in the banking sector by opening up data to fintech startup companies to create innovative new services.
8. GDS to work with local government
A small but significant line in the budget document said Whitehall departments, the Government Digital Service and local government will work together to improve local digital services. Until now, GDS’s remit has been strictly central government. However the Cabinet Office did not explain any further details on targets, timetables or who will lead the project.
9. £11 million for tech incubators
Osborne announced an £11 million investment to help build tech incubators in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield, with the private sector expected to contribute a further £32 million. The incubators aim to foster collaboration between startups, while also providing them with mentoring and business support.
10. ‘Google tax’
The chancellor announced plans to introduce a diverted profits tax, known as a ‘Google Tax’, next month. The 25 percent tax is aimed at ensuring multinational companies like Google and Amazon pay their fair share in the UK, and plug loopholes that allow them to do business in the UK but claim to be based offshore for tax purposes.