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November 25, 2015

8 digital pledges in Osborne’s Autumn Statement

List: Money for GDS to boost digital transformation across the public sector.

By Charlotte Henry

Overall, the Autumn Statement outlined that over the next 4 years the government has pledged to invest £1.8bn into digital transformation projects across the public sector.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said it was "welcome evidence of the government’s commitment to digital transformation. Government and industry must work closely together to bring innovation to government."

Here are the digitisation plans, and other key measures for business and IT.


1. More cash for the Government Digital Service

The Government Digital service was given a £450m boost from George Osborne, despite overall cuts to the Cabinet Office, the department in which it sits. The Autumn Statement document says that "By 2020 the government’s ambition is for citizens to have the option to pay online for every central government service", and the GDS money is designed to help this."

2. Enterprise zones

New enterprise zones will be rolled out across the country. There will be 18 new sites, with a further 8 existing ones extended. The Government says that 540 businesses have used enterprise zones, and have brought in £2.2 billion of private sector investment since 2012.


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3. Innovate UK Grants

Innovate UK, who support and provide grants to innovative will have its funding maintained in cash terms, this will partly by new finance products, which will reach £165m per year by 2019-20.


4. Cyber security spending

The Chancellor has previously agreed to a £1.9m boost in cyber security spending, as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, and this was formalised by being included in the Autumn Statement.


5. Digitising the courts

Funding was increased to over £700m "to modernise and fully digitise the courts". They will from a paper-based system to an online one. The Government says this will eliminate half a million pre-trial hearings and save the time needed to complete basic administrative functions. In total, the Autumn Statement predicts that savings of £200 million a year from 2019-20 can be made.

6. Digital tax accounts

The Chancellor gave more details on the development of digital tax, pleding £1.3bn to transform HMRC
"into one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world". All small business will have access to digital tax accounts for all small businesses and individuals by 2016-17

Kevin Nicholson, head of tax at PwC, said: "Moving the world of tax compliance into the digital age is a really positive step. Helping people pay tax quickly and more easily will save time and money for taxpayers and HMRC."


7. Emergency service back office shake up

£1bn will be invested in in the next generation of 4G communications network for the Emergency Services so that officers have access to key police databases, take mobile fingerprints and electronic witness statements and stream live body worn video on the move.


8. Apprenticeship levy

Firms will be asked to pay 0.5% levy on their payroll to fund a boost in apprenticeships, with the first £15,000 offset. The Institute of Directors says it "can only be described as a new payroll tax. At 0.5% of payroll it will be a big new cost for many companies, including medium-sized ones", while TechUK CEO Julian David said the Government should "listen closely to the needs to tech employers and ensure that the levy does not undermine existing initiatives by companies to nurture future talent."

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