Technology trade association techUK has published a ‘UK Tech Plan’ outlining how the government can ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the global tech race ahead of the next general election. 

With the UK already establishing itself as a competitive digital economy, the Plan also aims to address concerns about complacency and push for a comprehensive, forward-thinking strategy for the next government to realise the benefits of technology.

Over the past decade, the UK’s tech sector has witnessed exceptional growth, growing the economy by over 25%. Currently adding over £150 billion to the UK economy every year, the tech sector is one the country’s highest contributors.

However, techUK members consulting on the UK Tech Plan said that the UK’s ambition has faltered in recent years and there is a growing concern among the sector that politicians are not doing enough to guarantee the benefits that being a leader in technology will bring to the economy, people, society and the planet.

The full report can be downloaded here.

The UK Tech Plan sets out 18 opportunities that could be grasped by the tech sector and the government through a strong working relationship.

It estimates that this could secure a £5.69 billion pay rise for the British people by changing our approach to upskilling and retraining through reforms to the apprenticeship levy and a new Digital Skills Toolkit to support lifelong learning. This will also help prepare the population for the increased use of automation and AI.

By better spending the £2.1 billion committed to NHS and social care digital transformation to reduce the pressures on hospitals, boost care in the community and move to a more preventative health care system, techUK’s Plan believes the NHS will be prepared for the future.

It also says the government can reduce the cost of net zero and cut energy bills by digitising the national grid to cut the costs of reaching net zero by £17.6 billion per year and reducing the cost of energy bills by enabling the smart charging of EVs and domestic batteries.

If well supported, the UK tech sector could be adding £200bn per year to the economy by the mid-2020s, says the Plan. By helping 600,000 SMEs invest in productivity boosting technology, delivering digital connectivity and leading a British ‘Scale-up Sprint’ to remove regulatory barriers and unlock investment into semiconductors, quantum technologies and AI we have the opportunity to deliver that growth.

Lastly, it says that through a cross regulator online safety sandbox, new data sharing initiatives to significantly cut online fraud and developing a system of AI ethics, governance and regulation that will position the UK to lead the global debate on AI policy.

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“Whoever forms the next government will face a number of challenges, from how to increase economic growth, to supporting our public services, to how we address climate change,” said Julian David, techUK CEO. 

“The UK tech sector should be a key partner in addressing these challenges with the better use of digital technology viewed as the main opportunity for growth across all business sectors and how to transform public services from the NHS to policing.

“We can seize this opportunity if we see our tech sector as the engine of growth and change across our society and economy. However, to achieve this we need politicians to act, set out a long-term plan for the sector, provide a better approach to regulation and deliver on strategies for key technologies.

“That is why techUK has set out our UK Tech Plan, presenting 18 examples of how technology can build a better future for people, society, the economy and our planet and recommendations on how to ensure our regulatory system can cope with the faster pace of technological change and the AI revolution.”

Sheila Flavell, COO of FDM Group and techUK President, said: “The UK tech sector is Britain’s modern economic success story, serving as one of the economy’s higher contributors, but mounting economic and geopolitical challenges are starting to weigh heavy on the technology business community.

“With the right support the UK tech sector has the potential to add £200 billion to the economy every year as well as supporting our society, citizens, and the planet. Our UK Tech Plan serves as the blueprint for the next government to unleash the full potential of technology and establish the UK as the best place to do business in.”

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