The chancellor has promised funding to small businesses to help them adopt digital technology in order to boost the UK’s global standing.
During a speech at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Annual Dinner 2018, Philip Hammond also announced that the government would be launching a review of the country’s productivity gap.
He said that the UK “must embrace digital technology” in order for Britain to be at the “forefront of the technological revolution”.
To achieve this, he said the government must “invest in skills and training – to ensure the next generation is prepared for the economy of the future”.
Mr Hammond announced that with Greg Clark, the business secretary, he will be revealing further steps to boost firm-level productivity. One of these will be the investment of £5.6 million to support smaller businesses to adapt modern management practices and simple digital technologies, through two new pilot programmes delivered by Charlie Mayfield’s Be the Business.
The government will also provide £20 million for a pilot scheme in the north-west to support SME manufacturers to adopt industrial digital technologies, such as robotics and data analytics.
It follows a report released by the CBI last year, which highlighted the need for UK businesses to adopt technology as a means of bridging the country’s productivity and pay gap.
The report warned that “low take-up of readily available technologies and management best practices is driving the UK’s productivity problem”.
Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: “The UK’s digital infrastructure is the backbone of our future success, so businesses will warmly welcome the chancellor’s commitment to widen full fibre broadband access, which will ensure the UK remains competitive as the pace of technologies change.”