The UK technology sector is one of very few to have seen steady growth since the start of the economic downturn in 2008. Reports claim that it now represents 12 per cent of UK GDP.
With this in mind, it is perhaps not without cause that some may have thought the 2013 budget announcement would have contained a bit more good news for UK tech sector.
On the surface – especially when compared the 2012 budget – the 2013 budget doesn’t seem to offer much cause for cheer amongst the UK tech sector.
The 2012 budget unveiled a series of incentives to support the UK’s technology industry, including funding for ultra-fast broadband rollouts in the UK’s 10 largest cities, ensuring protection of the £100 million science budget. The 2013 budget didn’t have anything specifically for the tech sector.
There are some incentives, like the new Employment Allowance that will knock the first £2,000 off the NI bill for every business and charity. There is also an extension to the Funding for Lending scheme and the announcement of £75 million of new funding for venture capital to support start-ups.
None of these are directly for the tech sector, but when you consider the growth of small and medium sized businesses in recent years, and the part technology start-ups and hubs like Tech City in London have played in this, it could be claimed that the 2013 budget has more for the tech industry than it might seem at first glance.
The 2013 budget builds on the last budget and will give tech start-ups and SMEs that sprang up as a result of the 2012 incentives more room to manoeuvre and grow. The Employment Allowance, for example, will hopefully help tech start-ups overcome the hurdle of bringing staff on board at their early stages.
Of course we would have loved to see a more specific technology focus in the Budget, and some more overt steps taken to future proof the UK’s position as a world leader in tech, but those steps that have been taken are definitely ones in the right direction.
Thanks to the recent developments of SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme), Corporation Tax, creative tax reliefs and additional funding, the UK now has one of the most supportive sets of public policy for SMEs & fast growing technology businesses – we’re not there yet, but Mr Osborne is leading us in the right direction.