In a budget that some viewed as boring (perhaps as befits Spreadsheet Phil, although based on the number of one-liners delivered in his speech, the Chancellor is anything but boring), and getting the economy match-fit for the upcoming Brexit (which was conspicuous by its absence), there was plenty in there for members with an interest in tech.
The announcement early on in the speech of a delay in MTD for one year for businesses under the VAT threshold of £83,000 will be welcome; this will give businesses, agents and software developers more time to prepare for live running; it doesn’t take the work away, it just gives more time to get things right.
The digital economy was referenced in the way that entrepreneurs choose to trade, either as companies or as self-employed; with a government desire for this to be tax-neutral, this trailed the announcement of an increase in NICs for self-employed.
The £23b fund announced in the last Autumn budget was referenced as money from this was set aside to cover research into biotechnology, robotics and driverless cars, a 5G tech hub and to encourage local investment in fibre networks. There was also support for 1,000 new PhD places and fellowships, focused on STEM subjects.
Tech skills are seen as an important part of boosting productivity as well helping to create a fairer society; in recognition, the Chancellor announced the introduction of T-Levels, which will include good quality work placements. This is brought into focus with this being National Apprenticeship Week (6 – 10 March). Of course, to be successful there need to be entry-level jobs for all those school leavers and graduates leaving with their STEM skills.
So, as has been increasingly the case in recent budgets, recognition of the important part technology and technical skills will play in improving productivity and creating a fairer society.
You can find reaction from ICAEW experts here.
The full budget documents can be found here and the Chancellor’s speech here.