The technology industry shares the key budgetary measures it wants enacting to stimulate the IT sector and get UK plc back on its feet, ahead of chancellor George Osborne’s budget.
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Christopher Lemaire, CIO of Eurostar, wants to see more infrastructure spend: “Government should be doing more to invest in 4G and broadband, as those technologies have the power to expand the level of choice to people,” he said.
Research and development
Lemaire would also like to see greater investment in research and development (R&D), and more tax breaks for companies doing innovative research work.
“The economy is in a disappointing position, which means businesses have less money to invest in R&D. The government could do more to help in that area,” he said.
More funding for universities conducting technology research would help boost long-term growth.
“From my experience, Canada has been wiser than [European countries]. It has put much more money in research for universities in the area of business analytics. By not making those investments, we are closing doors for the future,” said Lemaire.
More tech hubs
Jora Gill, CTO at publishing company Elsevier, said he would like to see more dedicated technology hubs like Tech City to incubate IT start-ups and include tax breaks for the small businesses housed there.
“There is a lot of innovation in the UK, but not as much as in California. We need more centres of excellence, like in China and India. We need more investment to allow start-ups to be successful,” he said.
Gill said a generous government-backed bank lending scheme for technology businesses would also help.
“The biggest struggle at the moment is investment. Small businesses need a better investment vehicle, as venture capital has dried up. That means we are losing talent abroad, and also disenfranchising young people who could work in these small businesses,” he said.
Support companies using SMEs
Gill would also like to see more tax breaks for companies using small technology companies.
“Government could incentivise larger organisations like ours to use small, innovative businesses by introducing tax breaks. We often want to work with SMEs [small to medium-sized enterprises], but it’s hard for them to compete with the costs of offshoring work instead. But working with smaller UK companies would actually be better for doing more agile work,” he said.
David Bottomley, IT director at Specsavers, said a rethink of economic policy was needed across the board to boost growth.
“The way to stimulate business is to stimulate consumer spending. Broadly speaking, that means more investment and less austerity,” he said.
Businesses also need to be encouraged to invest in technology for growth. “[In the current climate] businesses are cutting back on technology investments, including speculative spend on innovation, which means they are potentially missing out on opportunities,” Bottomley added.
“For smaller organisations, a cut in corporation tax would stimulate spending in technology,” he said.
Commitment to the cloud
Annrai O’Toole, European CTO at Workday, said the government should reaffirm its commitment to using the cloud, as this would help encourage greater use of cloud SMEs by taking a "leading by example" approach.
“The UK government has been pushing the cloud agenda, but it needs to be at the forefront of embracing the technology. It’s got to be ready to adopt innovative solutions, as we live in an innovative world and we’ve got to be ready to invest – that will drive innovation across the board,” he said.
That would help to cut the billions government spends on IT, he added, as well as promoting a more efficient way of working.
“It’s about making businesses more productive and more efficient. That is how we can start to move the needle on the economy,” he said.
All the technology leaders interviewed were attending the UK CIO Committee Event by Global Business Events