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What's in the UK's Budget 2016? A 5G strategy, a big data centre for the ONS and driverless cars

Tamlin Magee | March 18, 2016
The UK wants to be a world leader in 5G mobile technology.

Michael Gould is the CTO of cloud platform business Anaplan, which is based in the region. According to Gould, broadband speeds within the major cities are generally good, but "if you have people working from home in the more rural parts of the north, this can prove to be a challenge".

"The roll out of high-quality rural broadband is a nationwide issue, but it is crucial to the development of the Northern Powerhouse," Gould said.

And CIO of IT services company Getronics, Tim Patrick-Smith, said he was "surprised at the general lack of focus on the UK's technology sector".

"It's disappointing to see a lack of commitment to resolving the issue many areas of the UK remain poorly served, in terms of communications and connectivity services," he said. "These are the lifeblood of a modern economy."

Otherwise, there was not a great deal specifically related to technology.

There's only one mention of 'big data' and zero for the 'internet of things' in the entire document. By contrast, last year's budget talked up driverless cars, IoT, the fintech sector, and digital currencies, to name a few.

Predictably, SMEs, startups and enterprises in the technology sector are likely to applaud the round of tax cuts for businesses.

And individuals who sell through the digital economy using services like eBay and Airbnb are likely to welcome a tax break to 'micro-entrepreneurs', who will not have to pay tax on their first £1,000 of earnings.

CA Technologies' CTO in the UK, Martin Ashall, even suggested that tax breaks for businesses could help plug the skills gap: "We believe the government's pledge for lower taxes on businesses and enterprises will help create more jobs," he said.

"The tech industry should be particularly pleased - with the skills gap still a major obstacle in realising the full potential of the British technology sector, the new tax breaks will certainly help."

Alex Macpherson, head of fund management business Octopus Ventures, said Osborne's announcements will be great news for high-growth small businesses - like SwiftKey, which was in Octopus Venture's portfolio.

"We are witnessing exciting developments in the UK's entrepreneurial market and it's great to see this Government recognising this," Macpherson said.

In his response, leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn criticised the Chancellor for a massive cut to science spending, and the loss of jobs in the renewables sector, solar in particular.

Both Osborne and Corbyn made reference to big business avoiding paying their tax in the UK, and although no names were named, it's quite possible both were referring to Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google.

 

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