Government needs to boost UK IT industry, admits e-commerce minister

E-commerce minister Stephen Timms has admitted to Computer Weekly that the government needs to do more to reverse the decline of...

E-commerce minister Stephen Timms has admitted to Computer Weekly that the government needs to do more to reverse the decline of the UK IT industry.

Timms e-mailed Computer Weekly in response to an article that appeared on's "Thought for the Day" column, entitled " We must regain our lead".

In the piece, which appeared on 23 April, author Jon Moulton lamented the decline of the UK IT sector. 

"The UK IT has fallen behind its rivals and action is needed if we have any hope of catching up," he wrote. "IT in the UK is in a long retreat and I do not see a turning point."

UK expertise is now in "subordinate" roles like consulting and integration, Moulton said. "We don't make paint but we can still apply it," he wrote.

Timms acknowledged Moulton’s criticism of the UK’s "small and ineffective" business support programmes, he said.

"The truth is he has a point - that is why we have already closed 20 schemes and over 60 more will close in the next year."

The schemes that will replace them will be broader and more flexible with a greater emphasis on the needs of business and on driving up productivity and prosperity, said Timms.

The key focuses will be on enterprise and best practice, innovation, investment and skills, he said. "We are, just as Jon suggests, doing ‘fewer, bigger and more consistent things'."

Moulton, managing partner at venture capital company Alchemy Partners, had accused the Department of Trade and Industry of having "many small, ineffective initiatives that are rolling nowhere" and complained about the "bewildering array" of government initiatives.

However, Timms defended the DTI's record in skills development and fostering collaboration on research and development. He pointed to the recent budget, which included measures to extend and simplify access to the R&D tax credit, and claimed the UK online for business programme has helped over 275,000 businesses over the past 12 months

Read "We must regain our lead" >>

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