The UK’s tech companies were watching closely as George Osborne got to his feet to deliver his fifth budget today.
While the size of the deficit, and changes to pensions and income tax will inevitably dominate the analysis there were things in there that will help the tech industry too.
For example, UKTI, the body designed to support and export British SMES, had its remit expanded further.
Osborne declared “we’re expanding the reach and support UKTI offers British business”.
Another one of the developments that pleases the tech industry was the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme being made permanent.
The scheme helps finance startups and Osborne said it had been a success. Judging by the positive reaction from the tech industry, others agree.
Osborne announced various changes to taxes that will help the UK tech industry and startups too.
He raised the R&D tax credit to 14.5% from 11%, introduced a Social Investment Tax Relief at 30%, and doubled the investment allowance to £500,000 meaning “99.8% of businesses will get a 100% investment allowance”.
Hidden in the small print was also tax help for the video games industry.
Today also saw an extension of grants for small businesses to support 100,000 more apprentices, as well as funding for Degree Level Apprenticeships.
Feeling left out
That’s not to say the budget was as startup- or tech-focussed as others had been, and some tech firms were critical of the lack of mentions the industry got. Duncan Higgins of Virgin Media Business commented:
Given that Britain’s digital economy will be 10% of GDP by 2016, it’s surprising that there was just one mention of the word “technology” and no mention at all of “digital” in the Chancellor’s Budget.
Jan Quant from Screendragon noted that while tax relief on flights might help British startups develop business abroad, “export relief under the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) only supports those with plant and machinery and so is of no use to the tech sector, who are flying the flag for the UK’s Intellectual Property”.
The Alan Turing Institute
One tech feel-good news storiy from today was the announcement of an Alan Turing Institute.
The computer scientist and World War Two codebreaker was from George Osborne’s Tatton constituency, and he recently received a posthumous pardon having been convicted for his homosexuality during his lifetime.
Tech City News also included Turing as one of the Tech City Top 25 in its first print magazine in December.
The institute that will bear his name will focus on the development of big data and algorithm research.
Still in the picture
Not quite a tech budget then.
But the industry continues to be seen as a key part of the British economy.
View our coverage of the Budget in the archive of our live debate here.
Image Credit: King’s College Archive Cambridge