The Budget also set out the UK Government’s plan to invest in research and development (R&D) and cutting-edge technologies, it identified support across the nations and regions of the UK with a focus on supporting the development of skills needed for an evolving economy.

Below is a summary of the key announcements relevant to BCS and its members:

Funding excellent public services
  • Additional funding for counter-terrorism policing and the UK intelligence community
Levelling up and getting Britain building
  • Funding for the Shared Rural Network agreement to improve mobile coverage in rural areas
  • £5 billion investment in gigabit broadband rollout in the hardest-to-reach areas of UK
  • £2.5 billion National Skills Fund to improve adult skills (£3 billion including indicative Barnett consequentials). Boost to STEM teaching with capital investment for up to eight new Institutes of Technology and 11 maths schools
Investing in innovation
  • Increase public R&D investment to £22 billion per year by 2024-25 (originally pencilled in as £18 billion by 2024)
  • R&D investment to be 2.4% of GDP by 2027
  • British Business Bank to launch £200 million investment levering total £600 million investment in Life Sciences
  • The Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) will set out plans to improve the use of data, science and technology across the public sector, ensuring all programmes are supported by robust implementation and evaluation plans, enhanced coordination between regulators and ensure the UK continues to lead on financial services innovation, including on the regulation of payments and cryptocurrencies
  • Review of the UK fintech sector led by Ron Kalifa OBE
  • Government will convene a summit on data needs for SMEs to shop around for credit
  • Increase in the rate of R&D Expenditure Credit from 12% to 13%
  • Over £900 million for UK high-potential technologies, including commercialising nuclear fusion technology, the government’s National Space Strategy and space innovation fund and UK supply chains for the large-scale production of electric vehicles
Education and skills
  • £120 million for eight new Institutes of Technology
  • £95 million for English providers to invest in high quality facilities and industry-standard equipment to support the rollout of T levels, supporting T level routes being delivered from autumn 2021, including construction, digital, and health and science
  • The government will look at improvements to the Apprenticeship Levy
  • Funding made available 2020-21 to support the increased number of apprenticeships in SMEs
Public sector capability
  • £16.4 million over the next three years, including £6.8 million for the ONS to make it easier to share more, higher-quality data across government in addition to the Artificial Intelligence and Data Grand Challenge and the ONS Data Science Campus
  • Commitment to develop new ways to detect fraud and build public trust in data use
Digital connectivity
  • £5 billion to support the rollout of gigabit-capable broadband in the most difficult to reach 20% of the country
  • Seven areas to receive funding under the Local Full Fibre Networks Challenge Fund: North of Tyne (£12 million), South Wales (£12 million), Tay Cities (£6.7 million), Pembrokeshire (£4 million), Plymouth (£3 million), Essex and Hertfordshire (£2.1 million) and East Riding of Yorkshire (£1 million)
  • Over 100 schools in rural areas are due to receive full fibre broadband in the next twelve months under the Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme
  • Shared Rural Network to improve 4G coverage with up to £510 million funding meaning 95% of the UK’s landmass will have high quality mobile coverage by 2025
New technologies and support for innovation
  • £800 million investment in a new blue skies research agency
  • £100 million in Defence R&D
  • £180 million for a new Collections, Research and Digitisation Centre for the Natural History Museum at Harwell Science, Technology and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire
  • Up to £5 million per year, to support the development & innovative use of new economic data
Competition and regulation
  • The Bank of England to publish a discussion paper on a possible UK central bank digital currency (CBDC)
  • Public consultations to bring certain cryptoassets into scope of financial promotions regulation and on the broader regulatory approach to cryptoassets, including new challenges from so-called ‘stablecoins’
  • Digital Identity Unit - The government will work to create a digital identity market that makes it possible for people to prove things about themselves without showing paper documents making opening a bank account, claiming benefits or buying a house simpler, safer and quicker