TechUK has called on chancellor Philip Hammond to align spending commitments to the government’s recently-published Digital Strategy and boost the UK’s ability to deal with big data in tomorrow’s Budget.
Philip Hammond is to deliver his first Spring Budget tomorrow – Photo credit: PA
The body, which represents smaller tech companies in the UK, set out 13 challenges for the chancellor to address in tomorrow’s fiscal set piece.
Hammond has ruled out “spending sprees” in the Budget, which will be the final Spring Budget as the government shifts to having one main fiscal event a year, in the autumn.
TechUK said that it was right to hold back extra revenue to deal with the potential shockwaves of Brexit, but added that there were areas the government could invest in now to “lessen that shock and prop up confidence in the tech sector”.
Among the recommendations are that the government offers a boost for the UK’s capacity to deal with emerging data issues ahead of the General Data Protection Regulation coming into force in May 2018.
TechUK called for extra funding for the Information Commissioner’s Office to help organisations prepare, which it said would also “enhance the ICO’s reputation as a leading independent regulatory voice on how data will underpin the new wave of international trade deals with key markets”.
This extends to the healthcare sector, with TechUK urging the government to balance the need for short-term stabilisation of health and social care with the importance of digital transformation.
“While NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has indicated additional funds should be prioritised on social care, the government should consider its broader ambitions on digital transformation – from capacity and leadership planning to better data sharing,” TechUK said.
The government should also link digital transformation directly to devolution deals, with a “unified approach to build smart cities and smart communities”, TechUK said.
There should also be ringfenced budgets for the use of smart technologies in major infrastructure projects, such as Crossrail 2.
The industry body also called for further detail on the commitments made in the government’s Digital Strategy, which was published last week.
This includes clear spending commitments on the various announcements made in the document, including the new networks of global tech hubs the UK will launch across the world.
TechUK also recommended further commitments to other areas addressed in the strategy, such as digital inclusion and training and support for teachers to deliver the new computing curriculum.
In addition, it said that the expected funding boosts for robotics, artificial intelligence and battery innovators should come with a strong link to commercialisation opportunities to help universities develop spin-outs.