- Chancellor Jeremy Hunt called on businesses to invest in the UK and promised long-term thinking to make the UK the next Silicon Valley
- he outlined a vision to drive for growth as one of the government’s five priorities – doing so by encouraging enterprise, tackling poor productivity, and getting more people into better paid jobs right across the country
- digital technology, green industries and life sciences among those identified as growth sectors that can help realise a more innovative economy
Speaking at Bloomberg’s European headquarters in London, the Chancellor opened his speech on the economy by highlighting one of the UK’s major growth sectors – technology – before revealing that the opening section of his speech had been written by ChatGPT, the AI software that was released late last year.
Getting the economy growing faster is one of the government’s five priorities, as set out in Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s New Year address. Mr Hunt outlined how he intends to deliver upon that over the coming years, ahead of the Spring Budget due on 15th March.
The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said:
“Our plan for this year remains to halve inflation, grow the economy and get debt falling.
“But all three are essential building blocks for much bigger ambitions for the years beyond.
“World-beating enterprises to make Britain the world’s next Silicon Valley.
“An education system where world-class skills sit alongside world-class degrees.
“Employment opportunities that tap into the potential of every single person so businesses can build the motivated teams they need.
“And opportunities spread everywhere just as our talent is spread everywhere.”
The Chancellor went on to call on businesses in the key growth sectors of Digital Technology, Green Industries, Life Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing and Creative Industries to increase their investment in the UK, with the Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance already leading work on how we should change regulation to better support safe and fast introduction of new emerging technologies.
The Chancellor added:
“If anyone is thinking of starting or investing in an innovation or technology-centred business, I want them to do it in the UK. I want the world’s tech entrepreneurs, life science innovators, and clean energy companies to come to the UK because it offers the best possible place to make their vision happen.
“And if you do, we will put at your service not just British ingenuity – but British universities to fuel your innovation, Britain’s financial sector to fund it and a British government that will back you to the hilt.”
Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said:
“I believe that Britain is uniquely placed in the world to become the number one home for tech – one where entrepreneurs have both the stability, but also the freedom, to invest and innovate.
“We have a clear vision for where this country is going, and a government that is prepared to match that ambition with action. That’s why this year we’re bringing forward new laws to transform digital markets, free up businesses to innovate with data, and set out our strategy for globally important semiconductors.”
Business Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“We stand at the cusp of a new age, facing a technological revolution that will transform the world as deeply as the industrial revolution did in the nineteenth century.
“The UK has an opportunity to be at the forefront of this revolution, building upon our world-class research infrastructure and open markets to scale up the business titans of the future here in Britain, in everything from AI to quantum, from robotics to biotechnology.”
The Chancellor set out his aim to increase enterprise, supporting businesses by using our new-found Brexit freedoms to review regulations in key growth sectors to make it easier for companies to innovate, alongside the importance of competitive business taxation.
He reiterated the importance of employment and tackling economic inactivity, helping more people into work and filling the vacancies in the jobs market. He also outlined ambitions to help more disabled people and those with mental illnesses into work, and a pensions system that encourages continued workforce participation. The Work and Pensions Secretary is thoroughly reviewing issues holding back workforce participation, with a report due to conclude shortly.
The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have both placed enormous importance on education, with £2.3 billion of additional funding for 23-24 and 24-25 announced at the Autumn Statement and continued implementation of the government’s skills reforms. The government has already made progress with T-levels, boot camps and apprenticeships.
And finally the aim of levelling up everywhere across the UK, ensuring that all areas feel the benefits of economic growth with empowered local areas and reducing the time it takes to build new infrastructure. Already the Levelling Up Fund has awarded £3.8 billion to projects across the UK and the UK Government is working to launch Freeports in every country in Britain, with several already operating in England and the locations of two having recently been announced in Scotland.
The Secretary of State for BEIS Grant Shapps and Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport also delivered keynote speeches at the event.