Budget 2015: Industry calls for apprenticeships and broadband investment

Charities and technology vendors call for George Osborne to announce further support for apprenticeship schemes, training and roll-out of broadband to build more connected cities

by the commentator on 8 July 2015 09:41

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British businesses and charity groups have called upon Chancellor George Osborne to throw his support behind tackling the UK skills shortage via apprenticeship schemes as well as broadband investment, ahead of the emergency budget 2015.

The first all-Conservative budget since 1997 is expected to see a raise in the 40p tax threshold and pledges to cut welfare spending by billions of pounds.

Ahead of the announcement Helen Sutton, MD at software firm Unit4, said: “The Government should consider tech as a long term investment to address the deficit and ultimately enable departments to do more with less.”

Jo Croft, CEO at digital charity BSS said: “The spring budget brought good news for charities, with the announcement that from April 2016 the Gift Aid small donations scheme will increase from £5,000 to £8,000.

While this move will be celebrated by many within the sector, the Government must go beyond simply helping charities maximise their donation revenue, to ensuring that the third sector is provided with the infrastructure needed to achieve its essential goals.

As charities digitise to improve their quality of service and maximise their reach, it is increasingly important to the third sector that the Government sticks to its pledges regarding broadband roll out – ensuring more people are connected, such as the housebound and those in rural communities, to the wider world and can access vital services.

And as well as physical infrastructure, supporting workplace schemes that enable employees to volunteer for a few days a year could significantly increase the charity sector workforce, supporting many charities when going through busier or more challenging periods.”

Rebekah Wallis, Director at IT services company Ricoh UK said: “Increasing the number of apprenticeships is critical for providing the next generation with the training and skills so badly needed by British employers. Many UK businesses already make a valuable contribution to this initiative, but there is still so much more to do.”

Tim Roe, UK MD at Rated People said: “It’s time for the Conservative government to deliver on their manifesto promise to create 3 million new apprenticeships. This week’s budget needs to outline how the government will support sole traders and small businesses in taking on new apprentices – ideally through fresh National Insurance breaks or an extension of the existing training allowance schemes.”

Natalie Duffield, CEO at intechnologyWiFi said: “It’s encouraging that recent governments have increasingly recognised the connectivity problem the UK continues to face, with 18% of British households still without internet access today.

That’s why it’s essential that the government continues its investment in ensuring that all British households have access to broadband, providing funding for local open-WiFi schemes that – alongside getting more people online – also support Smart City initiatives and ‘always on’ connectivity to remove ‘not-spots’,” she added.

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