IT unmoved by Brown promises

Having digested Gordon Brown's pre-budget statement, delivered on 27 November, the IT community's considered response combines...

Having digested Gordon Brown's pre-budget statement, delivered on 27 November, the IT community's considered response combines scepticism, disappointment and in some areas, a little optimism.

The biggest disappointment for many contacted by was the chancellor's failure to highlight the issue of broadband adoption but this was tempered by the news of tax cuts and cash incentives to IT firms.

David Harrington, director general of the Communication Managers' Association highlighted the chancellor's failure to act on broadband and the damage this is causing e-commerce. "I am intensely disappointed at a great opportunity being missed at such a critical time," he told

Ronan Miles, chairman of the Oracle User Group in the UK, agreed: "I'm disappointed that Mr. Brown didn't do anything about Broadband Britain. Having said that, there's some good news about tax credits for research and development. However," he added, "whether that works its ways into IT remains to be seen."

Margaret Smith, e-commerce director at Legal and General was more upbeat. "If the government is going to offer cash incentives to small businesses to get their payroll systems online then we would see that as a big bonus," she said, "This means that smaller employers can now give their employees benefits that they would not have been able to afford in the past."

Welcoming the introduction of tax credits for companies doing informal in-house staff training for e-business, Roger Till, director of external affairs at e-business trade association e.centre, said: "This is a start but overall, for a government that is trying to make the UK the number one place for e-commerce, this is very disappointing. There was no focus or impetus for getting people involved in e-business."

There was disappointment that the government has not specifically addressed the IT market.

"From what Gordon Brown said on Tuesday, I really think it's too early to say what impact it will have on the IT sector," said Rupert Wheeler, member of the Elite Committee - the British Computer Society's IT forum. "The UK is becoming a less productive country, and IT is the means of improving that productivity and I can't help feeling uneasy that the incentive to use IT to boost productivity simply isn't there."

Mark Thackeray, SAP partner manager at business services group Xansa was worried that the government is not being innovative enough.

"I feel that the government lacks entrepreneurial flair. It has lost touch with the needs and desires of SMEs," Thackeray said. "They [the government] don't understand what the burning issues are for these businesses. It needs to be aware of the difficulties facing the SME today, and SMEs need to be represented in government."

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