George Osborne’s 2013 Budget has left the technology industry disappointed after the Chancellor failed to make any substantial sector specific announcements, but rather focused his efforts on unveiling a raft of investments to support the growth of SMEs.
His plans include cutting companies’ National Insurance bill by £2,000, increased support for SMEs needing external advice, and a further reduction in corporation tax to 20 percent.
Shortly after Osborne finished his speech to the House of Commons, Computerworld UK was flooded with comments expressing dismay at the lack of prioritised investment for the technology and digital sector.
Matthew Finnie, CTO of networking company Interoute, said that compared to last year’s Budget, where Osborne claimed the UK would become Europe’s technology centre, the Chancellor was disappointingly quiet.
“It’s really disappointing that today’s budget speech included no reference to the tech industry. Last year we were inspired with the promise of incentives to support UK tech investment, and a vow to make the UK the tech centre of Europe,” said Finnie.
“But George Osbourne was curiously quiet on this today, leaving us to wonder what has happened to last year’s bold claims?”
He added: “Osbourne remains focused on reducing the UK’s deficit, but in today’s internet focussed world, surely there’s no doubt that encouraging our technology industry is absolutely key to economic growth and success? The UK has the ideas, energy and innovation to make the UK a world leading technology centre, but it needs the right support and investment.”
Speaking for members of the technology association, Intellect’s director general Julian David also expressed dismay at the lack of discussion around technology specific investment, whilst still welcoming the support that is set to be provided for SMEs.
“Today’s budget showed that the Chancellor is willing to take action to support start ups and SMEs and this is very welcome. But more must be done to futureproof the UK’s position as a serious contender in the global race to be the world leader in tech and safeguard the progress of our high growth industries,” he said.
“It remains a concern that despite representing 12% of GDP, the Chancellor failed to directly reference the UK’s tech sector. Tech start ups and growing SMEs are the silicon coloured shoots of growth so needed by UK PLC. The Chancellor cannot afford to take this growth for granted.”
Osborne did announced £3 billion additional investment in infrastructure in the coming years, which is being made possible by further public sector cuts, but is yet to outline exactly where this money is going to be spent. It is expected that this will be outlined in June.
CloudSense’s CEO, Richard Britton, said that investment in digital infrastructure would enable start-ups to flourish outside of specific areas of the country – such as London’s Tech City.
He said: “Increased investment in infrastructure is critical for UK businesses so it is good to see a number of measures in this budget designed to help foster the right business environment. However, it is disappointing that there hasn’t been the level of investment in the digital economy that would have provided a major a boost to the country’s thriving tech industry.
“With a better digital infrastructure in place we could then see tech start-ups emerging right across the country rather than just in certain established pockets. We have a brilliant tech sector in the UK but we need to give these young, innovative businesses the tools to grow and become significant employers.”