Chancellor Philip Hammond has delivered his first Budget, focusing on technology and local authorities in the process.
Some of the key points that he discussed are as follows:
- £270m to put the UK “at the forefront” of disruptive technologies including robotics, biotech and driverless vehicle systems.
- £16m to create a 5G hub to trial the forthcoming mobile data technology. In particular the government wants better mobile network coverage over the country’s roads and railway lines.
- Funds for 1,000 new PhD and fellowship positions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) subjects.
- The government will introduce a new qualification for technical education, called T-levels. This will see an increase in the number of hours of training for 16-19-year-olds on technical courses by more than 50%, to over 900 hours a year on average, including the completion of a high-quality industry work placement during the programme.
- £200m to support local “full-fibre” broadband network projects that are designed to bring in further private sector investment. In addition, the government wants there to be full-fibre connections to public sector buildings including schools and hospitals.
- A £690m competition fund for English councils to tackle urban congestion will be made available.
Responding to the Spring Budget Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis said: “The government’s positive response to the commission’s recommendations on mobile connectivity and 5G is welcome.
“The commission’s central finding was that mobile connectivity has become a necessity. It is great to see that the government is ready to take an active role in ensuring services are available wherever we live, work and travel, and that our roads, railways and city centres are 5G ready.
“But the strategy around digital connectivity needs to be delivered coherently. A clear roadmap is required so that the proposed spending on fibre and connectivity pilots reflects the Commission’s conclusions and delivers tangible benefits to consumers and businesses.
“The commission looks forward to the government reporting back on before the end of 2017, and to DCMS making headway in establishing mobile connectivity fit for the future.”
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