Philip Hammond’s last budget before Brexit focussed on positioning the UK as a world leader in innovation and technology. In fact, the Chancellor mentioned technology 35 times throughout the report and digital 28 times. Here’s a list of some of the key technology takeaways.
1.‘The Amazon tax’ as it has been dubbed will see tech giants “pay their fair share”. The new Digital Services Tax aims to generate £400m a year for public services by taxing the giants, including Google and Facebook, 2% on what they make from UK users. Despite not knowing the full details on how the tax will work in practice, the Chancellor wanted to make it very clear that this would not impact on smaller digital platforms.
2. The budget also announced £1.6bn investment in science and innovation including Artificial Intelligence, quantum computing, future manufacturing, and nuclear fusion.
3. The government has commissioned a new National Infrastructure Commission study, to be published in spring 2020, on how to improve the resilience of the UK’s infrastructure in light of technological advances and future challenges such as climate change.
4. As part of investment in R&D, the government will increase the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund by £1.1bn, with the aim of supporting technologies of the future:
- Up to £121m for Made Smarter, an industry-led review, to support the transformation of manufacturing through digitally-enabled technologies, such as the Internet of Things and virtual reality
- Up to £78m for the Stephenson Challenge, a fund that invests in companies working in the field of mechanical engineering, supporting innovation in electric motor technology, making vehicles lighter and more efficient
5. Fellowships will receive £150m to attract and bring the best global researchers in AI to the UK
6. £115m further funding for the Digital Catapult, a variety of government-back centres in the North East, South East and Northern Ireland
7. Technologies such as blockchain could revolutionise how information is recorded, protected, stored and shared, transforming financial markets, supply chains and public services. The Digital Catapult will test potential by running a series of field labs, working with businesses, investors, and regulators in a range of areas, including construction and the management of goods in ports
8. The West Midlands Combined Authority will receive up to £20m, subject to approval of a satisfactory business case, to create the UK Mobility Data Institute, a research centre to collect, process and analyse transport data generated by new mobility technologies