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Government UK Digital Strategy

Thursday March 2, 2017 at 12:02pm

The Government's Digital Strategy Whitepaper was issued on March 1st, detailing the actions planned.

  • The Digital Strategy applies the framework of the Industrial Strategy to the digital economy with the aim of creating a world-leading digital economy.
  • It is a seven-pillar strategy focusing on key areas such as connectivity, skills and the data economy.
  • Government commits to implementing the General Data Protection Regulation by May 2018.
  • A new Secretary of State-led forum for government and the tech community will be established to spark growth in the digital economy.
  • Government will establish a new Business Connectivity Forum to address broadband infrastructure.      
  • Government will work with independent regulators to encourage innovation-friendly regulation.

The strategy has seven pillars:

  1. Connectivity: building world-class digital infrastructure for the UK
  2. Skills and inclusion: Giving everyone access to the digital skills they need
  3. The digital sectors: making the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business
  4. The wider economy:  helping every British business become a digital business
  5. Cyberspace: making the UK the safest place in the world to live and work online
  6. Digital government: maintaining the UK government as a world leader in serving its citizens online
  7. The data economy: unlocking the power of data in the UK economy and improving public confidence in its use.


  • By 2020, the volume of global internet traffic is expected to be 95 times that of 2005. The Digital strategy aims to ensure that the UK’s digital infrastructure can support this rapid increase in traffic, providing coverage with sufficient capacity to ensure data can flow at the volume, speed and reliability required to meet demand.  
  • Recognises that fast speed and reliable connectivity is vital to business.  Government is determined to close the gap with residential properties and drive up the quality and reliability of coverage for businesses. This means ensuring that businesses are at the forefront of future broadband roll-out, including full fibre.  
  • Aim to establish a new Business Connectivity Forum, chaired by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that will bring together business organisations, local authorities and communications providers to develop specific solutions to the issues faced by businesses.

Skills & Inclusion 

  • Commitment that everyone be able to use these digital services so they can reap the financial, health and social benefits they offer.
  • Plans to undertake a feasibility study this year on the viability of using outcome commissioning frameworks, such as payment by results or social impact bonds, to tackle digital exclusion.
  • Commitment to invest £1.1 million through the NHS on projects to support digital inclusion.

Digital Sectors

  • There is a desire for the UK to be the best place to start and grow a digital business.
  • To create the right conditions for this growth, the Government will work with independent regulators to encourage innovation-friendly regulation.
  • States a commitment to create a Secretary of State-led forum for government and the tech community to work together to spark growth in the digital economy - through innovation and the adoption of digital in the wider economy.
  • Highlights the work of Professor Dame Wendy Hall, Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, and Jerome Pesenti, Chief Executive of BenevolentTech, who will undertake a review of how we can create the conditions for the artificial intelligence industry to thrive and grow in the UK.

The Wider Economy 

  • Government will aid British businesses in adopting digital technologies as a means of strengthening the economy. 
  • Recommitment to Autumn Statement 2016 which announced £13 million funding to create a private sector-led Productivity Council. The Council will drive engagement to improve productivity across the economy.


  • Desire to ensure a safe and secure cyberspace, which is an essential requirement for an inclusive, prosperous digital economy.
  • Government will support the National Cyber Security Centre to provide a single point of contact for companies, particularly those that form part of Britain’s ‘critical national infrastructure.’
  • To ensure a pipeline of cyber skills Government will run a national after-school programme for the most talented students, cyber as well as apprenticeships, and adult retraining.

Digital Government

  • Digital Strategy references the Government Transformation Strategy published on 9 February 2017 sets out our intention to serve the citizens and businesses of the UK with a better, more coherent experience when using government services online.
  • Emphasises a need to harness the potential of digital to radically improve the efficiency of public services so as to provide a better service to citizens and service users at a lower cost.

The Data Economy

  • Data will benefit the UK economy by up to £241 billion between 2015 and 2020.
  • Government will work with organisations such as the Open Data Institute to create an environment to open up customers’ data across more sectors through the use of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), within a way that builds public trust.
  • Highlights that the stability of data transfer is important for many sectors and therefore the UK will implement the General Data Protection Regulation by May 2018. This will ensure a shared and higher standard of protection for consumers and their data across Europe and beyond.  


Radio 4 Interview today (March 2nd 2017) with Charlotte Holloway (Head of Policy, Tech UK): What will the UK tech industry look like after Brexit?

Tech UK members are worried. She spoke of a ‘triple hit’ on UK tech companies:

Increasing demand for workers, increased uncertainty around international (EU and non-EEA) staff, and a skills shortage in the UK digital economy. In short, there is a gap between the number of workers we have, and the number of workers/types of skills we need.

She stressed the point that in order to be a global hub for tech, the UK has to be a global hub for talent. Shortages on a number of fronts in this regard are already costing the economy £2 billion a year. Industry is ready and willing to work with government in order to maintain our openness to talent, and laid out announcements today to support Government in achieving that.

Tech UK is encouraged by the Government’s position on retaining global talent, as Charlotte deems the key to success in recent years has been the availability of entrepreneurs, skilled workers and university researchers coming in from abroad. A few options on the table, including:

  • a special tech visa for after Brexit
  • setting up tech hubs around the world e.g. UK-Israel tech hub model

What tech companies really need is concrete reassurance and detail on what will come next. Charlotte finished by saying the UK tech industry is fundamentally interconnected with other markets – and must continue to build links with others. Fortunately, the initial detail on proposals like international tech hubs look like a strong signal of intent from Government.

If you would like more information, please contact the IPM on 020 3848 0444. 


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