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A budget to support technology

June 21, 2024 by Alistair Enser

Last week the Chancellor of Exchequer made his Autumn Statement and announced a series of measures. Three things jumped out for me.

Firstly, the government is releasing £500 million to support the development of AI in the UK. Following on from the UK’s recent AI summit, details of how the money will be used are yet to be confirmed, but certainly reflect the government’s intention of putting the UK into a leadership position when it comes to AI.

As someone who writes often about AI and the positive impact it will have on the security industry as well as business at large, you will already know that Reliance High-Tech is focused on this subject, so I find it encouraging to see the government take the technology seriously.

Separately, it was interesting to see the so-called “super deduction” extended. This allows businesses to offset investment in plant, equipment and, yes, technology, against profits. Under the super-deduction, for every pound a company invests, their taxes are cut by up to 25p. It’s estimated that the measure will increase annual investment by £3bn a year and it’s a key tool in boosting the UK’s famously low productivity. By encouraging firms to invest in technology and automation it is hoped the measure will drive greater efficiency.

Don’t forget, then, that your security system potentially qualifies under the scheme as HMRC makes specific reference to “fire and CCTV systems.” Given that today’s video technology can do so much more than enforcing security, its place on the list, for me, is assured. As I have written only recently, given video can be supported by AI to provide deeper operational insights, deliver greater efficiency and provide valuable business information, it makes a natural choice for organisations investing under the super deduction scheme to boost productivity. Contact Reliance High-Tech to find out more.

Finally, the autumn statement revealed that the economy may be improving: for some time inflation has been high, and the increase in interest rates to combat it has proved painful for households and businesses alike. To hear that inflation has dropped to 4.6% – largely because of falling energy prices – is very encouraging.

Likewise, news that the S&P Global/Cips flash UK PMI composite output index, which tracks the health of manufacturing and services business, rose to 50.1 from 48.7 in October gives cause for optimism. A number over 50 indicates that a majority of businesses reported a growth in output, and this is the first time this has happened since July of this year.

Finally, and as I wrote this, the British pound had climbed to a 12-week high against the US dollar after unexpectedly strong consumer confidence data for November. Clearly there is still uncertainty ahead: the OBR has lowered its growth estimates for 2024, while there is concern for the impact of inflation, even at its current rate, on public sector organisations that didn’t get additional funding in the recent statement.

But as we approach the end of the year it looks like the UK economy could be turning a corner, and might be facing a more positive future, with technology at its centre.