As the Chancellor unveils his spring budget, Kate Lawlor, CEO, Bruntwood SciTech comments on the government’s announcements and the ongoing commitment to investment in the science and technology sector.
The announcement of the £22bn Future Fund: Breakthrough programme for investment in UK infrastructure is vital to the future of the UK economy, supporting the creation of high value jobs and the government’s levelling up agenda. The new Fund will help to fill the scaleup funding gap widely regarded as a key challenge for innovative technology businesses. The government also pledged to support R&D intensive businesses looking for more than £20m of funding with direct investment. Yesterday’s funding announcements from the Chancellor help to provide reassurances for the science and tech sector off the back of his commitments made this time last year.
The government’s proposals on visa reform to include a ‘fast track’ visa for highly skilled workers for growing companies is much needed to allow UK firms to get applications from the best candidates globally, particularly those in the fintech sector, which contributes around £11 billion a year to the British economy. Under the new system, highly-skilled migrants, with a job offer from a recognised UK 'scale up', innovative high-growth fintech and cyber companies, will qualify for a fast-track visa, without the need for sponsorship or third-party endorsement. The Chancellor’s pledge to launch the new Apprenticeship Incentive payments for newly recruited apprentices from 1st April, will provide a welcome boost for businesses in the digital tech sector for whom skills and talent remain critical for growth.
The government’s commitments to the UK regions saw the introduction of eight new freeports, including freeport status for the Liverpool City Region, which will further support the government’s levelling up agenda and will provide a much welcomed opportunity for the city region to drive inward investment, global trade and attract new jobs. The first ever UK Infrastructure Bank will be set up in Leeds, with an initial capitalisation of £12bn - to finance public and private sector "green industrial revolution" projects, supporting consumers to access new savings products which support green projects. We welcome the establishment of a new group to help position the City as the global leader for carbon offset markets.
The ability of digital to transform SMEs and boost productivity has often been cited, so it is with much enthusiasm that the Chancellor has launched the ‘Help to Grow’ scheme, supporting SMEs to improve their digital capability and undertake subsidised training in areas such as financial management and marketing.
The extension of furlough til the end of September and the introduction of the new loan recovery fund backed by Government will provide much needed security of jobs for businesses as the UK looks to build back better and towards it’s post pandemic future.