Budget 2015: what does the tech industry want?

The tech sector's demands for today's budget range from more help for startups, contractors and the new computing curriculum to investment in broadband and the fledgling Internet of Things industry.

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Support for IT startups and contractors plus funding for broadband, tech 'clusters' and the new computing curriculum are some of the items on the tech sector's wish list for chancellor George Osborne to announce in his budget today.

The budget provides an update on the government's economic plans and will be the last before the general election on 7 May, just seven weeks away.

Computing curriculum

The computing curriculum, which was introduced last September, has generally been popular within the tech sector.

However both IT industry association techUK and Coadec, which represents digital startups, said more money needs to be set aside to help train teachers. Specifically, Coadec said funding should increase from £3.5 million to £20 million.

This “will help develop the pipeline of talent that tech and digital companies are crying out for,” techUK’s head of policy Charlotte Holloway said.

Startup support

Support for startups was a consistently important theme among the organisations ComputerworldUK spoke to.

Simon Hill, chief executive at idea management software start-up Wazoku, said he would “love to see further legislation to help promote innovation or support the job creating startups via greater tax breaks, especially around PAYE and NI”.

Martin Campbell, manging director at fintech firm Ormsby Street, said he would welcome “any measures that help small businesses manage cash-flow”. In particular Campbell said he would like to see existing 30-day payment rules for public contracts extended to the private sector to help address “the culture of late payment in UK business”.

Tech talent shortage

More help to tackle the “major” shortage of tech talent in the UK was a priority for a number of firms.

Antony Sherick, MD of IT jobsite Technojobs, said the government should help IT contractors, who play a vital role in ensuring companies can deliver digital projects and modernise their infrastructure.

Sherick said the chancellor “must not curb this enthusiasm with the extension of tax restrictions of contractors. These workers of the lifeblood of the UK’s tech sector”.

Hill also highlighted the skills gap. He suggested one way to plug it could be to give businesses access to a central “training capital” fund so they could invest in recruiting and training “raw” tech talent.

Infrastructure and IoT

Monica Parker, founder of analytics tool ‘Hatch’, said she would like to see increased spending on broadband and more investment into technology and enterprise zones, for example Tech City or the tech cluster in Cambridge.

Holloway also highlighted the importance of connectivity. She said the government needs to develop a “digital communications infrastructure vision for the UK into the 2020s” and called for “experimental pilots to boost the UK's Internet of Things capabilities”.

Holloway said she would like to see more initiatives “that will equip more citizens with the basic digital skills to access public services online”.

Image credit: © Flickr/HM Treasury

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