Once again, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s red briefcase remained firmly in the analogue world.
George Osborne made his first tentative steps into the modern world by joining Twitter on the day of the 2013 Budget (well, some unfortunate Treasury press officer did at least, and then had to read all the abuse their boss received).
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But you can’t imagine George is planning to retire the briefcase and walk out of Number 11 Downing Street carrying a red iPad anytime soon.
There can’t be many sectors that contribute 12% of GDP yet still get so little consideration in the UK’s economic planning – not least as a growing industry with enormous opportunity to establish Britain as world leader.
There was some encouragement for start-ups – start-ups generally, that is, not specifically tech – which will help the burgeoning UK scene. But other than that, the briefcase contained policies for banking, manufacturing and construction, those important but resolutely 20th century industries.
Surely it can’t be difficult to join a few simple dots for those in the Treasury team.
We have record youth unemployment in the UK, and a huge shortfall of young entrants in the IT profession – not to mention the need to fill tens of thousands of new roles in the coming years. Would it have been so hard to offer incentives for training and recruitment into IT jobs?
According to research, nearly 15% of commercial properties in the UK are empty. Meanwhile, one of the fastest growth areas in the technology world is cloud computing, a US-dominated area where the main suppliers have to be convinced by data protection laws to set up cloud datacentres in Europe.
Might it be a good idea all round to find ways to use suitable empty commercial properties to establish datacentres or businesses to support the cloud ecosystem? Or of course, you could just let UK companies give all their cloud IT budgets to US suppliers.
It can’t be difficult for some economist to prove the net-positive effect of such policies – more people in work, paying more taxes, buying more goods; more landlords receiving rentals, corporate IT budgets being reinvested in UK companies, a growing source of tax revenue from the UK being a hub for cloud providers.
Labour leader Ed Miliband labelled Osborne as a “#downgradedchancellor” after his Twitter debut. What more do we have to do to convince George to upgrade his UK IT budget?