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Budget 2018: What the Tech Sector’s Watching out For

Increased investment in STEM uptake and a comprehensive rural broadband package are expected to be outlined during Monday Budget announcement.

By jonathan chadwick

At 3:30pm on Monday, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond will announce the UK’s last Budget before the country leaves the EU next March.

Here’s what the country’s technology sector can expect from the announcements.

STEM Shortage

According to the STEM Learning organisation, a skills shortage in the UK is costing the county’s tech sector £1.5 billion a year.

UK STEM businesses are struggling to recruit qualified workers for STEM-based job roles, leading to a shortfall of more than 173,000 workers.Tech Budget 2018

Institute of Coding, which promotes digital skills, is hoping that the new Budget makes a commitment to tackling these figures.

“From cyber skills to data science, UK companies are crying out for graduates and apprentices with the latest technical abilities and are seeking to upskill these capabilities to existing workers,” said Institute of Coding director Rachid Hourizi.

“There needs to be a commitment to improve workforce skills, so we are hoping to hear more about the role IT can play in driving the economy forward and the need for encouraging more people to choose careers in tech.”

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Tech Budget 2018: New Tax For the Internet Giants?

Hammond announced earlier this year that the UK might introduce a “digital services tax” to gather more money from large tech firms, such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

Read this: UK Threatens Unilateral Implementation of Digital Services Tax

Kamal Ahmed, BBC Economics editor, thinks a new tax on tech giants would be a surprise.

“US against [tech tax] and @OECD process still on-going to find a global solution – which @PhilipHammondUK would rather. ‘Plans’ may be announced – but gov have already done that three times,” he tweeted.

In its pre-Budget report, TechUK said that any government approach to taxation should avoid singling out tech companies.

“Such an approach risks not only seriously damaging the reputation of the UK as an open and welcoming digital economy, but would create a further fragmented business environment at a time when the wider economy is digitising and using data,” it said.

“Hundreds of Millions” for Improved Broadband

The Sunday Telegraph reported that hundreds of millions of pounds will go towards installing superfast broadband in the country’s remote areas.

This will include at least a £250 million for connecting schools and libraries with “full fibre”, it said.Tech Budget 2018

“For the 21st century broadband is to roads in the 20th, railways in the 19th, and canals in the 18th,” Hammond told the Telegraph.

“It’s the network infrastructure that will make this country work.”

The lack of superfast broadband access in the countryside was one of eight key demands from the National Farmers’ Union last week.

Blockchain for Post-Brexit Trade?

Hammond said earlier this month at the 2018 Tory Party Conference that blockchain could be a solution to the problem of post-Brexit trade between the Irish border line.

“I don’t claim to be an expert on it but the most obvious technology is blockchain,” the BBC reported Hammond as saying; a comment that was widely ridiculed.

The Treasury later added this comment: “We are actively considering technologies that could help facilitate trade over the Northern Ireland – Ireland land border, in order to streamline any requirements that may emerge for traders after the UK leaves the EU.

“These technological solutions will support our commitment to no physical infrastructure at the land border.”

Read more: Alarm Bells Ring Over Crucial Brexit Customs IT System Delays

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