UK gov urged to help SMBs with digital adoption incentives

The UK will become the 'sick man of Europe again' without digital incentives, Coadec report suggests

A man using a smartphone with connection icons over lay

An advocate for tech startups is urging the UK government to find ways of incentivising tech adoption for SMBs to boost the country's productivity. 

The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) have called for a digital adoption fund that provides tax reliefs to SMBs and greater collaboration from the UK's startup ecosystem. 

In its report, 'Hidden Figures', Coadec refers to the UK as "the sick man of Europe" due to its stagnated productivity. The organisation suggest that unless more is done to make digital adoption easier and more attractive to the country's small and medium-sized businesses, the UK will fall further behind others in Europe. 

"Although most nations have experienced slow productivity growth since 2008, the situation in the UK is by far the worst amongst our peers and one of the worst performances in UK history," the report states.

"However, the British economy hasn't always been characterised by slow productivity growth, but performance has fluctuated compared to that of our peers across the last 60 years. In 1960, the UK had the highest level of productivity in Europe before suffering a slowdown in the 1960s and 1970s which led to the UK becoming known as the "sick man of Europe". 

To get the country back to health, Coadec recommends the government put in place four incentives for SMBs. The first is a fund that works like tax credits for companies that want to adopt new technology - helping to reduce the cost. 

For those that are perhaps not confident on what tech their business needs or unsure what value they will offer, the report recommends creating a sector-by-sector 'tech matrix', a list of approved products and services. This also ties into its recommendation that tech startups offer support to SMBs on what tech to adopt and how.

Finally, the report urges the government to create a post-COVID-19 tech adoption strategy, so businesses can be more agile in the face of future challenges. 

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