Advanced manufacturers, high-tech businesses and digital enterprises all received a boost with the announcement of a £750 million fund to support cutting-edge technology in yesterday’s Budget.
And the Chancellor promised to improve the speed and coverage of the UK’s broadband network, promising to deliver 2mbps broadband to “almost every community”
But there were complaints over the lack of breadth and detail in the plans, and fears it was not doing enough to stimulate specific sectors.
Asha Ghosh, the digital manager at communications agency Seal said Birmingham’s thriving digital sector needed more detail from the Chancellor. And she said just investing in infrastructure was not enough to promote digital innovation.
“It was all about the infrastructure rather than how people go about using it,” she said. “The broadband aspect of things is always important, and it’s an easy route for the Government to go down. I live in the middle of Birmingham and I still don’t have proper broadband.
“But I don’t see why innovation would happen just because broadband happens. Everyone automatically thinks the sector needs some kind of subsidy. If there was some kind of cash back option or tax break, that might help.”
The Government is in the middle of a Digital Britain review, a major consultation on the future of the media and communications industries, and last week the Prime Minister said the digital economy would be vital to Britain’s future economic prosperity.
The Chancellor said creative industries could be given access to £2.5 billion set aside to encourage investment in the “high-skilled jobs of the future”. And he announced the creation of a Strategic Investment Fund.
He said this would “encourage exports, support inward investment, promote research and development and harness commercially our world-class science base”.
The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta), a body which promotes innovation in the UK, welcomed the announcement of the £750 million fund.
Jonathan Kestenbaum, Nesta’s chief executive, said: “Today the Government took a vital step on the road to recovery and the future looks a lot brighter for the UK’s entrepreneurs.”
“Recessions are times to take bold action. I am pleased that the Government has acted on our recommendations to invest in the UK’s growth sectors to unlock future growth. The £750 million investment fund will be critical in sustaining the UK’s global position in these sectors.”
But analysts at Grant Thornton in Birmingham said the rise in the top rate of tax would make it hard to keep the top creative earners in the country.