UK semiconductor strategy delay criticised by MPs

A committee of MPs has referred to the UK government's delay in publishing a national semiconductor strategy as an "act of self harm"

Following a review of semiconductor plan progress undertaken last year, which concluded with recommendations made in November, the business, environment and industrial strategy (BEIS) governmental committee has accused ministers of failing to take action.

Recommendations made included improved collaboration with ally countries to safeguard supply, and to secure internal investment.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) was supposed to publish a plan for the UK microchip sector last Autumn, but a spokesperson has claimed that delays have been caused by the order of a redraft by the Treasury.

According to Labour MP and BEIS committee chairman Darren Jones, swifter action is needed to keep up with the likes of the European Union, United States and Japan in the global semiconductor race.

“We had evidence from British companies before the committee who say, ‘we’re British, we started here, we want to stay here. But the Americans keep coming over to us and offering us loads of free things’,” Jones told The Telegraph.

“With 40 days until the Budget, the strategy must be published urgently so that sufficient funds can be put behind it and used effectively.”

The letter states: “The technology and manufacturing sectors have been waiting more than two years for the promised strategy, and confidence in the government’s ability to address this industry’s vital importance is steadily declining with each month of inaction,” reported the Financial Times.

In addition, the committee has cited notable investments made in markets overseas, including the pledge of $52bn to subsidise US semiconductors under the US Chips Act, and the EU’s commitment to investing €43bn.

According to The Telegraph, around £1bn is expected to be made available for investment in the UK semiconductor space.

In response to the BEIS letter, a DCMS spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting the UK’s vitally important semiconductor industry.

“Our strategy will address the recommendations identified by the committee, including opportunities to grow the sector further and make sure we have a resilient supply chain.”

A group of tech leadership signatories sent a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week, calling for the release of a strategy for national chip production.

Leaders involved included Acorn Computers founder Hermann Hauser, NMI network director Jillian Hughes, and industry groups TechUK and Global Tech Advocates.


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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.