In November the Prime Minister announced his plan for a Green Industrial Revolution but, so far, his financial commitments are modest, and the Government needs to do much more.
Developing new technology is inherently risky and countries all over the world are scrambling to be at the forefront of the Green Economy. The Chancellor must look to make sure that the UK is considered a favourable location to set up shop.
The importance of retraining in new skills to allow businesses to take full advantage of the benefits of new technology investments is critical.
Government grants to facilitate learning and development of new skills are key to support the technology sector. Businesses in other sectors are looking to take advantage of ‘Industry 4.0’ but doing so requires retraining parts of the existing workforce so they can adapt to the new technology.
An announcement by the Chancellor to introduce targeted grants to small and medium sized businesses to retrain employees – for example those on a production line, to understand automation, machine learning and data analytics – would be welcome in the Budget.
The Chancellor should also be considering how the ‘new normal’ is going to impact on working patterns and our daily lives as we emerge from lockdown. In theory the ability to do more remotely opens up new opportunities for many people and parts of the UK but much of the country lacks the infrastructure to take full advantage.
Only 65% of the UK has access to ultrafast broadband. The pandemic is fast tracking our use of new technology, whether it is home learning, online retailing, or remote working. Every home should have affordable access to fast broadband.
The Government must resist the temptation to restrict spending on the rollout further and commit to fibre broadband in every home by 2025 which would help the economy recover.