The UK’s major financial services lobby group has urged Rishi Sunak to speed up the country’s rollout of full fibre broadband in next week’s Budget to ensure the City’s tech infrastructure does not fall behind other major finance centres.
TheCityUK said the “existing speed and availability of key infrastructure in the UK, such as broadband, lags most other leading financial centres”, which in the long-run will negatively affect “growth, attractiveness, and the ability to innovate”.
The government has outlined plans to roll out full fibre gigabit broadband to 85 per cent of the country by 2025, however TheCityUK wants to go quicker.
Its Budget wishlist said the government “should seek to accelerate roll-out [of gigabit internet coverage] further to get as close to 100 per cent as possible” by 2025 and that the UK “should also be more ambitious” in rolling out 5G technology.
The group said noted that “30 per cent of financial services workers have said they need more digital and technology expertise to fulfil their roles as a result of the pandemic”.
TheCityUK also called for the launch of a tax simplification programme in Sunak’s Budget, which it says would “have a positive impact on inward investment and the overall attractiveness of the UK’s business environment”.
Emma Reynolds, managing director for public affairs, policy and research at TheCityUK, said: “The UK’s future lies in being a highly-skilled, competitive, innovative and green economy. In this sustainable vision, people will be our greatest asset, and digital infrastructure our most important tool.
“Ministers must have a laser-like focus on ensuring people across the UK have the skills and digital infrastructure they need to innovate and create value.”
The Times today reported that Sunak will set out a plan to gradually raise corporation tax from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in next Wednesday’s Budget.
Next week’s Budget is also expected to include extensions to a raft of emergency Covid support, including the furlough scheme, VAT cut for hospitlaity and retail and a business rates holiday.
The Times also reported today that Sunak is set to extend a stamp duty exemption for house purchases under £500,000 until June.