Autumn Budget 2021 Seeks to Make the UK a Science and Tech Superpower

“We are making this country a modern science and technology superpower,” Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Autumn Budget 2021 was unveiled today as UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak took the podium in Parliament to sell his vision. Once again, the Budget included a grab bag of government spending, tax cuts as well as increases. Much of the discussion referenced the challenges of the pandemic. Inflation remains hard to ignore. The Chancellor claimed this Budget will help to make the UK a science and technology superpower. He also added that over time, he wants to see taxes going down. Meanwhile, this past spring the rate of corporate taxes was raised to 25% beginning in 2023, a level the Chancellor says is the 5th lowest in the G20. [The opposition claims that the Conservatives are now the party of high taxation]

The Budget indicates that total departmental spending is set to grow in real terms at 3.8% a year on average over this Parliament. This is said to be a cash increase of £150 billion a year by 2024-25 (£90 billion in real terms). The document states that this is the largest real-term increase in overall departmental spending for any Parliament this century.

Fintech makes an appearance in the Budget, first in recognition of the need for talent and high-level skills. The Budget states that high skilled migration is key to keep the Fintech sector going:

“49% of the UK’s fastest-growing businesses have at least one foreign-born co-founder and approximately 40% of staff in UK Fintechs are from overseas. That is why in spring 2022, the government will launch the Scale-up, High Potential Individual, and Global Business Mobility visas to attract highly skilled people and support inward investment. The government is also launching a Global Talent Network to proactively find and bring talented people to the UK in key science and technology sectors.”

Additionally, the Budget indicated there will be funding to “seed fund a new Centre for Finance, Innovation, and Technology, to tackle barriers to growth and accelerate the UK Fintech sector.”

UK government measures to support smaller businesses, to be delivered by the British Business Bank, include a plethora of programs including expanded regional funding, start-up loans, and an extension of the Recovery Loan Scheme. Loans will be available up to a maximum of £2 million per business. The UK government guarantee will be reduced from 80% to 70% to encourage the lending market to move towards normality as the economy continues to recover.

If you want to review the entire Autumn Budget 2021, you may download it here. There is something for everyone.

Crowdfund Insider received several comments following the Budget presentation.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, Chief Executive, British Business Bank, shared the following comment:

“The package the Chancellor has announced today enables us to build on our range of programmes to support sustainable economic growth by increasing the supply, diversity and demand for finance for UK smaller businesses. We welcome the provision of this funding to deliver our expanded programme of activity, enabling us to make over £4.9bn of financial commitments and loans. This includes £1.6bn to provide investment funds for the Devolved Nations, and the North, Midlands, and South West of England, £150m to invest alongside business angels across the UK, and resources to provide 33,000 Start-Up Loans over the next three years.”

She added that the six-month extension to the Recovery Loan Scheme will also provide support for smaller businesses as they look beyond the pandemic and towards recovery.

Oliver Prill, CEO of Tide – a Fintech providing access to capital for SMEs, said don’t; forget about smaller firms:

“Although we welcome the Chancellor’s interventions to help business in the wake of the pandemic, including the £150 million fund for small businesses in Scotland announced today, small businesses, which total 5.6m across the UK and form the economy’s backbone, aren’t out of the woods yet and we were disappointed by the lack of small business-focused policy, particularly for those without a premises, in the Autumn Budget Statement. Official data shows that the number of small businesses dropped significantly, by 6.5%, between 2020 and 2021 as a result of Covid-19, and while we also saw a start-up boom, the government needs to do more help small businesses to thrive, with a regulatory framework to help them thrive and not hinder them. Small businesses should not be forgotten.”

Paul Christensen, CEO at Previse commented on the Chancellor’s plan to turn the UK into a Science & Technology Superpower:

“The government should stop treating AI as a buzzword and put its money where its mouth is to create real solutions for the very real problems that SMEs face – like slow invoice payments. A third of small businesses worry about repaying Covid loans. Releasing funds locked in the £23.4 billion in late invoices owed in the UK would support small businesses’ cash flow and contribute to economic recovery – at no cost to the taxpayer. When the technology is accessible and ready to help it is ridiculous that 99% of the private sector is chasing late payments from the other 1%.”

Claudia Harris, OBE and CEO of Makers software BootCamp, noted that the Budget will raise spending on skills and training by £3.8 billion over the parliament, an increase of 42%:

“Apprenticeship are key to closing the digital skills gap in the UK. They offer individuals the opportunity to earn while they learn, democratising entry into the digital labour market. For companies they provide the opportunity to hire talent trained to a standard created by industry – so job-relevant by design. We welcome the government’s continued backing for apprenticeships and digital skills training and are delighted to see ever more companies using the levy to bring extraordinary and diverse talent into their tech teams.”

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