Tech industry reacts to summer mini-budget

Tech companies were bound to have been keeping eyes and ears out for today’s summer mini-budget from the Chancellor, which included a £2 billion Kickstart Scheme, and a £1000 job retention bonus for every furloughed worker brought back.

The Kickstart Scheme will account for government-subsidised jobs for unemployed young people, with the Treasury promising to pay for 100% of the National Minimum Wage for employees aged 16-24, up to 25 hours per week.

With the aid of the new scheme, employers will be able to offer six-month placements to young people, and can top up their wages.

In addition, Chancellor Sunak promised to financially aid apprenticeships, with £2000 being paid for every new apprentice, as well as £1500 for every new apprentice over the age of 25.

Traineeships have also been considered in the latest mini-budget, with businesses being offered £1000 for every trainee payment. This is capped at 10 jobs per company.

The latest data from the Economist Intelligence Unit‘s Global Business Barometer, supported by SAS, has revealed that optimism among UK executives has grown regarding the country’s economy over the last three months, compared to the rest of the world. However, 86% have stated plans to scale back investments and spending in the next three months.

Investment in skills welcome

Fred Flack, head of talent academy at CloudStratex, has reacted to the announcement, stating that while an intent to invest in skills should be commended, more tangible measures are still required.

“With the UK economy forecasted to shrink by almost 10% this year and unemployment to rise by at least the same amount, it is clear that investment in skills and training will be vital if we are to rebound from our present economic slump and see the first green shoots of recovery,” said Flack. “Therefore the Chancellor’s summer mini-budget, which is set to increase the number of apprenticeships and sector based work academies’ for high demand sectors, is to be commended.

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“If UK businesses are to remain competitive they clearly need highly skilled, competent individuals, especially if they are technically literate. After all, technology underpins key sectors such as finance and banking, health, retail, and manufacturing, which bolster the UK economy and ensure our global success.

“Most importantly though, the Chancellor has thrown a lifeline to many vulnerable young people who need support and training now more than ever, if they are to become the next generation of business technologists and leaders. While we have yet to see the full details of what has been announced, and how it will work, what we know so far is certainly a step in the right direction.

“That being said, the skills agenda has long been a problematic issue for the Government and we need to see concrete action rather than lip service being paid to resolving it.”

Gordon Wilson, CEO of Advanced, commented: “We welcome the generous measures announced by the government today, particularly around the initiatives to train and reskill people. The tech sector is a high demand sector and we are only too aware the impact technology will play in the UK’s recovery.

“We urge the government to focus on support for and investment in the technology sector, as we have seen through the pandemic just how crucial technology is in both handling crisis situations and enabling UK workers to do so remotely. The UK tech sector is a great place to build new tech skills for British businesses which are fit for the future.”

Thinking post-pandemic

According to Atul Bhakta, CEO of One World Express, the mini-budget announcement lacks insight regarding the landscape after the pandemic is over, with Bhakta hoping for more aid for small businesses and tech startups.

“The Chancellor quite rightly wants to find ways to get people back into work, but this will take many, many months,” he said. “While short-term measures are necessary – and the ‘kickstart’ job scheme is a good first step – it is slightly disappointing to see a lack of long-term thinking at present. After all, the best way to tackle unemployment is to help UK businesses grow, in turn ensuring they hire more staff and aid the economic recovery.

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“Away from this mini-Budget, the reports that Boris Johnson is seeking ambitious free trade plans in the coming months must be welcomed and I implore the Government to unveil more details on these plans. What’s more, I would like to see further incentives such as tax breaks for small businesses and private sector investment into high-growth startups; doing so will provide the boost required so SMEs can shift their from survival to growth.”

UK-based participants in the Global Business Barometer revealed their own views on the actions they wanted the government to take in order to aid recovery from Covid-19, with 58% wanting low interest rates to be maintained, and 54% wanting international travel to be limited.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.

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UK Budget