General Election 2017: Here's what UK tech wants from the next government

Lynsey Barber
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Technology will be more disruptive in the next five years than the last 20 (Source: Getty)

Funding for protecting Britain from cyber attacks should be tripled by the next government and Brexit negotiations should ensure online businesses can continue to take advantage of the free flow of data between the UK and Europe.

These are just some of the demands from the digital and technology sector ahead of the General Election in June, the group representing these businesses has said.

An additional £200m to defend the country against cyber attacks should be earmarked, say TechUK. It comes in the wake of the massive global Wannacry ransomware attack which brought down some NHS services over the weekend and hit businesses around the world.

Read more: Brexit has put foreign workers off coming to work in UK tech

“Digital security is fundamental, but our defences are only as strong as our weakest link. That’s why TechUK’s cyber plan would triple the funding for protecting government information technology and securing online services based on the previous budget" said TechUK chief executive Julian David.

"Our manifesto also argues that strong encryption is also vital for defending the UK and its citizens from attacks by hackers and hostile states.”

The group also wants the next government to spend £1bn a year to help the NHS embrace technology and commit three per cent of GDP to R&D to make Britain a world leading innovator.

The group is also calling for the appointment of a digital ambassador for Britain, to help promote the UK's digital sector abroad and boost trade. Labour on Tuesday outlined plans for such and appointment in its manifesto, while London mayor Sadiq Khan has kicked of a search for the capital's first ever chief digital officer.

Read more: Three crucial things UK tech wants after Article 50 is triggered

The promise by Labour along with others is a "nod in the right direction" said the group's deputy chief executive Antony Walker, but needs to go further. "It's not as explicit about tech issues as perhaps they could have been," he told City A.M.

The Conservative Party has yet to reveal its manifesto pledges and Walker praised the "positive moves" made by Theresa May's government. But, he said: "In a way they should think beyond just driving startups and entrepreneurship and see how it can drive productivity and build a smarter state, and deepen its understanding of where jobs come from in the future and help people adapt."

He urged the next government to be bold in its thinking, but admitted it was "a Brexit election", urging parties to consider the economic and social impact of technology.

"This next five years is going to see more change than the last 20 and how government respond to that is going to be important," he said.

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