Government’s Digital Strategy is ambitious but lacking in detail

Commenting on the government’s Digital Strategy launched today by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, Richard Heap, a technology partner at RSM said:

‘The government’s long awaited Digital Strategy is nothing if not ambitious. There are lots of good ideas in here to help drive growth in the all-important digital sector. However, the policy paper is lacking in detail in some key areas, and with such a broad range of policy goals and objectives, there’s a danger that some of these will fall away.

‘In our view, the focus should be on three top priorities. First and foremost is investment in infrastructure so that everyone can actually get onto the internet. Our patchy, slow broadband speeds – even in some areas in London – puts the UK at a huge competitive disadvantage versus our competitors, and is a barrier to growing the digital economy. Second is a genuine focus on education on IT and coding in schools, and getting youngsters genuinely ready for the workplace. Third is continued and better support through the tax system through enhanced R&D reliefs and regulation to include a flexible and updated IP regime.

‘The government is currently undertaking a review of the tax environment for R&D and we look forward to hearing further details on how the tax regime can help further stimulate private sector investment.

‘The strategy announced today also recognises the vital importance to the technology sector of being able to continue to attract the brightest and best to study and work in Britain after the exit from the EU. This will no doubt be top of mind during the upcoming Brexit negotiations given there are currently around 80,000 EU nationals working in UK digital economy businesses.

‘There is much to commend in this new strategy, but without a greater focus on priorities, the government’s stated ambition for the sector to grow 70 per cent by 2025 could be hard to deliver.’