Autumn Statement: George Osborne urged to tackle cybercrime and support digital industries

British business chiefs call on the Chancellor to improve connectivity across Britain and invest in the fight against cyber crime to protect the security of the nation

by the commentator on 24 November 2015 13:30

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Leading industry figures have called on Chancellor George Osborne to focus on digital development and safeguarding the security of the nation from hostile online attacks, The Commentator can reveal. Ahead of the Autumn statement, some of the UK’s most influential spokespeople have issued public calls for policy announcements and initiatives.  

Natalie Duffied, CEO of intechnologyWiFi said,Britain continues to face connectivity difficulties, whether due to infrastructure or digital skills, and 15% of British households are still without internet access today (Ofcom, 2015).

The government must continue its investment in ensuring that every British residence has access to the internet – investing in broadband infrastructure to ensure every household is connected and through funding open-WiFi schemes to connect those using community hubs or living in sheltered accommodation, as Watford recently deployed to help battle digital exclusion in its town.

Duffield continued, “Internet connectivity is an essential tool for education job searches, and getting the most cost-effective price for the utilities bills. The government should look to reaffirm its commitment to connectivity and ensuring that no citizen is left disconnected from its abundant opportunities.”

Paul Farrington, ‎Senior Solutions Architect at Veracode said, “It’s promising that the government has affirmed its commitment to tackling cybercrime in the UK, with a £1.9bn investment announced by the Chancellor last week. But, as GCHQ director Robert Hannigan argued earlier this month, the free market is failing cybersecurity.

The government must go beyond its fiscal investment and also invest in policy and regulation to ensure that companies are held liable for breaches where they have not taken appropriate measures to secure customer data. This will be important for ensuring that companies carry out their cybersecurity due diligence and protect against known threats.”

Farrington continued, “But, with any steps towards issuing liability, the government must also ensure that it is providing cyber education to the private sector so that all companies can make informed decisions on cybersecurity.Technical training must not only be provided to the engineers who are leading the cyber fightback, but also to Non–Executive Directors who will then be better informed to ask the board the uncomfortable questions necessary to determine whether the firm can repel and indeed survive a breach attempt.

Without more executives gaining a greater understanding of how to question the CEO and CIO on these topics, change will continue to be glacial in pace, despite a rapidly growing attack landscape.”

Sharon Argov, CEO and Co-Founder of Fundbird said, “It isn’t surprising to hear that the Funding for Lending Scheme is set to be phased out in January 2016. When it was introduced, it was a timely initiative from the government to encourage the banks to lend more to individuals and small businesses. However post-recession it doesn’t make financial sense for the government to continue with it.

The government referral scheme is a welcome, contemporary alternative given the vast array of funding options now available to small businesses from alternative lenders. We hope to hear that the government will build on this and support the alternative finance space further, throughout 2016.

By developing policies that encourage British businesses to utilise alternative finance lenders, we will see productivity and growth increase exponentially among Britain’s small businesses, which is a no-brainer for the government.”

Meanwhile JF Sullivan, Chief Marketing Officer, Xura said, “In today’s climate, control of public spending is crucial for a nation’s economic security. Britain is facing a situation in which its budget needs to be to revisited to enable long-term investments in areas essential for its well-being.

Increased funding of infrastructure and high-quality broadband will give businesses greater access to rich, modern communication technology, such as WebRTC (web real-time communication), which can be used to enrich and enhance the provision of customer service in both the private and public sector.

For example, high street banks can remotely connect with customers, delivering instant, secure, personal and cost-effective service via their mobile devices, and offer a range of communication options such as SMS, video chat, or instant messaging.  

And virtual “eyes in the field” will allow cardiac nurses to monitor the vital signs of dozens of patients at a time, in real-time, communicating with them when necessary, and saving on resources and the need for costly interventions. Not mentioning easy quick video calls and secure document sharing between doctors to share diagnostics, doctor to patient, etc. saving a lot in unnecessary care coordination, transportation, etc.

These are just some examples of why we at Xura believe that investing in this kind of secure communication technology can make Britain more productive, and deliver better return on investment for a range of industries.”

Damian Hennessey, commercial director, Proto Labs, "The manufacturing sector is on the verge of a high-tech revolution in the UK. The convergence of software and hardware is opening up exciting new possibilities for young people looking to embark on an innovative, fast-paced career that contributes significantly to our booming digital economy.

Powering forward this innovation however, cannot come from the manufacturing industry alone. Ample and continued support from government is imperative to ensure that the manufacturing sector continues to develop, and to attract the brightest and best talent to bridge the STEM skills gap."

We eagerly await the outcomes of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. The UK manufacturing sector has to remain competitive on a global stage despite a tough economic climate. The future of this high-tech and fast-paced industry depends upon adequate funding, and ‘championing’ from all areas of government and industry.

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